Young volunteers cleanup, beautify schools in Gulfport

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - About 400 young people are spending this week beautifying schools, churches, parks and homes throughout Gulfport. The volunteers are part of a summer service camp hosted by a national Catholic organization. One large group was trying to give an elementary school a cleaner, brighter, bolder look.

The main hallway at West Elementary School looked faded and dull, but now, the walls are covered in vivid orange and bright blue paint. You can thank a very dedicated group of volunteers for that.

"They've done more than we would have gotten done in the entire school year, and so we're way ahead of the game," said Principal Kenny Hudson. "The staff, their spirits have been lifted. Everyone is happy and I can't wait to see the kids on the first day of school to see the transformation."

About 70 high school and college students from Mobile and Orlando have spent the last three days painting the walls, classrooms, planters and picnic tables.

"They chose to take time out of their busy schedules to come, so it shows everyone is united toward the common goal. They want to make everything better," said Lauren Webber, a Mobile volunteer.

The volunteers have also moved furniture into the classrooms and helped teachers organize their supplies.

"Without them where would I be? It's a much brighter world with these people in it, and now we have more faith," said third grade teacher Jackie Wintruba.

Their faith is what drives the volunteers. They are carrying out the mission of the Catholic organization "Alive In You".

"I'm being a light to Christ. I'm setting an example and hopefully, other people will see the work we're doing and maybe we can inspire people," said Turner Flynn, an Orlando volunteer.

They have left such an unforgettable mark on the school that the teachers have all voted to dedicate next year's yearbook to the young volunteers.

"I think everything that has happened here in the past few days has kind of lifted everybody's spirits and there's just a positive aura that's going on right now. We're just excited that they've been here to help us," said Hudson.

The volunteers even brought their own tools, equipment, and money to purchase supplies.   On Saturday, they will get a chance to explore the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They will head home on Sunday.

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