COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - Dozens of Southern Miss students and recent graduates have left their homes this holiday to help many people in Columbia who lost their homes in last week's deadly tornado.
About 50 people, mostly from USM fraternities and sororities, gave up part of their Christmas break Tuesday to clean up and remove debris from properties along Purvis-Columbia Road.
They said it's the least they could do to help the community recover from the storm, which killed five people in Marion and Jones counties and left dozens of homes and businesses destroyed or damaged.
"It's really devastating to see your home look like this and I've been here all my life," said Ryan Luethje, a graduate student at USM who is also a Columbia native. "So, it really feels good to have everybody come and be supportive," he said.
"It's all a group effort and I think that's what it's all about, learning how to accept a role and do your best in that role," said Charlita Zollicoffer, a recent USM graduate who was one of the volunteers.
"Being there for people when they really need help, that's just what we do and this is the place that we need it," said Ray Young, another student volunteer.