Project Serve partners with Carpenter's Helper to help community

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - An exchange program sponsored by USM has been partnered with Carpenter's Helper for five years, providing assistance to the community's elderly and disabled.

The exchange program is called Project Serve. Students from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada spent their spring break this week in Hattiesburg volunteering. They worked with Carpenter's Helper as well as a local school and food pantry.

"It's a service learning program," explained Candace Stewart, team leader of Project Serve. "Students provide a service and they learn through service."

In turn, a group from USM travels to Canada to learn about sustainability. Both groups of students benefit greatly from the experience.

"It's not only volunteering," said Stewart. "You get to learn more about yourself, more about the community, and build partnerships over the years."

Tom Smith, executive director of Carpenter's Helper, was glad to instruct the students in building wheelchair ramps and roofing. Carpenter's Helper is a United Way agency that works to improve sub-standard housing for needy people in Lamar, Forrest, and Perry counties.

"They're great kids," said Smith. "They're really hard working kids."

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