Volunteers work to ‘Make A Difference’

Ever since a tornado swept through Hattiesburg and across campus on Feb. 10, countless hours have been spent recuperating from the devastation. The All-American Rose Garden has been restored at the entrance to the school, trees have been planted and businesses have repaired their buildings and reopened.

But there is still work to be done. Many neighborhoods in Hattiesburg are in the same state as when the tornado struck almost eight months ago, with homes heavily damaged and families left hanging in the balance as they try to pick up the pieces.

In support of the recovery effort, Volunteer Hattiesburg has extended the national Make A Difference Day into a weeklong event, starting Sunday, Oct. 20, and ending Oct. 26. The volunteers will work on homes in the community affected by the tornado.

Make A Difference Day is the nation’s largest day of community service where millions of volunteers come together to improve the lives of others in their communities. Volunteer Hattiesburg has teamed up with R3SM (Recover, Rebuild, Restore Southeast Mississippi), The Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation, United Way of Southeast Mississippi, The Hattiesburg American, Mississippi Power, The USM Center for Community and Civic Engagement and many other community partners to focus on “Recovering the Pinebelt.”

“We saw such a wonderful showing for the campus cleanup after the tornado and students have continued to be a vital part of the recovery,” said Josh Duplantis, director for the USM Center for Community and Civic Engagement. “We want to continue the tradition of the spirit of Southern Miss students and the amount of support they have shown in the recovery efforts, making [Make A Difference Day] bigger than it ever has been.”

As a part of the recovery efforts, the Center for Community and Civic Engagement will be hosting a “Game Day Bucket Brigade” before the Homecoming game on Oct. 26. Students are invited to stand outside the gates of the stadium as spectators arrive to the game to raise funds.

The participating organizations will be repairing the community throughout the week with a list of events posted on the Volunteer Hattiesburg website. This is a new opportunity for students to get involved with the Hattiesburg area community by volunteering for Make A Difference Day.

Students and other members of the community who wish to get involved should:

  • Register as a volunteer at VolunteerHattiesburg.org and stay updated for upcoming volunteer opportunities
  • Make a financial contribution through the Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation
  • Arrange to make an in-kind donation of building supplies and materials through the Volunteer Hattiesburg website
  • Stop by Room 104 in The Hub at the Center for Community and Civic Engagement to get involved with on-campus activities.