Spirit Of Volunteerism Shines During Thanksgiving Week

Instead of carving a turkey with his family in New York, Mark Deubert is building a deck for an elderly Biloxi woman he's never even met.

"I think I will miss home cooking," Mark Deubert said with a smile.

But Deubert will tell you, there's no place he'd rather be this Thanksgiving week than in Biloxi, rebuilding homes for Katrina victims.

"You definitely see how much you have when you come here and see how much people lost," Deubert said.

Amanda Zabalza is another volunteer who'd rather work than take a break. The college Sophomore from California is on her third trip to South Mississippi.

"It's really kind of my home now," Amanda Zabalza said. "I think I was more homesick for Biloxi, than I was for my home when I was here."

For Zabalza, spending her Thanksgiving break volunteering in South Mississippi has become an annual tradition.

"My mom isn't particularly happy with me, but that's okay," Zabalza said. "Yeah, I missed the last three Thanksgivings in a row."

When asked if she minds, Zabalza said "No, I think this is a little more important."

The volunteers are willing to give up their holiday, because they want to give families hope -- hope of spending next Thanksgiving in their homes once again.

"Thanksgiving, we're being thankful for whatever it is, and I think I want to give people something to be thankful for," Zabalza said.

Some volunteers are in South Mississippi this week for a different reason. They're cooking up Thanksgiving dinners to feed needy families or anyone who wants a hot meal.