The people of Enterprise, Alabama reached out to south Mississippi in its moment of need. Now, hurricane weary Jackson County residents and the Shed restaurant are returning the favor.
Wednesday morning, three truckloads of relief supplies are being sent to Alabama's tornado ravaged community. Each donation is a reminder of a lesson Mississippians learned 18 months ago -- that a little help makes a big difference.
Linda Orrison organized the relief effort. On Tuesday, she sent a van to churches, schools and government buildings where people made tornado relief donations.
"This stuff is from the bus drivers of Ocean Springs, the school bus drivers," she said when the van returned to the Camp Victor warehouse Orrison used to store the supplies.
One of the people boxing up those supplies was Kristen Buckreis. The Penn State University student was in Ocean Springs on spring break, expecting to help south Mississippians rebuild. She had no idea the coast would be so generous to a neighboring community.
"It's great to see a town that happened to have a hurricane hit willing to give back," the college freshman said.
Jason Miller was part of the Penn State group. He drove the van around town, picking up the supplies.
"It's pretty cool to come down here and see how everybody is helping everybody else out," Miller said.
When Linda Orrison wrote the script for this relief drive, she "never imagined this would happen this way." Orrison thought the Shed restaurant could collect enough relief supplies to fill a 17 foot trailer. She had no idea her Enterprise, Alabama project would elicit so much support, that two 50 foot trailers would also be needed.
"The people, they call all the time and they say you know what, I can't give money, but I can give food out of my pantry," she explained. "It's a healing process for Ocean Springs."
That's what amazed the Penn State volunteers.
"It's a good experience just giving everybody a hand wherever we can," Miller said.
On this Tuesday, the hand they gave at Camp Victor in Ocean Springs boxed up tornado relief supplies donated by the same people they were supposed to help.
"It's very motivational. I think it's great to see," said Buckreis.
On the day before the relief supplies headed over to Alabama, Orrison was like a proud parent at graduation: "When you're finally able after almost two years to give back to somebody else, it heals you," the restaurant owner said.
Penn State wasn't the only group helping box up the relief supplies for Enterprise tornado victims. Americorps volunteers worked just as hard loading food, household products, building supplies and school supplies onto trucks.
When the relief supplies arrive in Enterprise Wednesday, WLOX News will be there live. Join us when Alabama tornado victims receive aid and support from some appreciative friends in Jackson County who know how gratifying it is when neighbors lend a helping hand.