Nearly four years later and they continue to come. Amazing.
I'm talking about the volunteers who are still making their way to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to do their part to erase the countless Katrina scars which remain.
I was reminded of this twice in the past week, once at my church and the second time on assignment in Hancock County.
As with many congregations I'm sure, my church has made it a habit of recognizing visiting volunteers who've been coming since the winds of Katrina first calmed. This past Sunday, a crew of young people from the University of Virginia were here with their winsome smiles and "can do" attitude.
Thanking them with our applause somehow seemed insufficient; but so it goes and that's the way it's been with numerous volunteer groups, young and old, who've blessed us with their willingness to labor.
The second reminder came during my coverage of the national kickoff of the Great American Clean-Up in Waveland. More than a thousand volunteers, local and from across the nation, converged on Hancock County for a spectacular day long beautification event. They pulled weeds, built gazebos, planted sod and picked up trash. I met a number of volunteer groups.
Among them was a group of ladies from North Carolina. They were already here on a Katrina mission trip and heard about the clean-up. They thought it would be fun to join.
I admired their spirit.
There was also another group of college kids. These young men and women were here from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland. They gave their all from the business end of rakes and shovels, planting trees and pulling stubborn weeds.
I couldn't stop the flashbacks this week. Seeing these various volunteer groups, my mind raced back to the immediate days following the storm. Before the shock had even worn off, there they were: Volunteers. And more volunteers. And still more. And so it goes.
I know that we've been hospitable to these gracious visitors. My hope is that you and I can one day repay the favor by visiting their communities; helping them in some time of need.
Until then, thanks again volunteers. You are appreciated more than you'll ever know.