Volunteers Score Big By Rebuilding Damaged Stadium

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PASS CHRISTIAN, MISS. — The sounds of electric saws and hammering fill the languid air on a hot August day in southern Mississippi, where a group of volunteers tackle a larger rebuilding project than a private home.

The North Carolina Baptist Men's Disaster Relief group is restoring a high school football field that hasn't been used since Hurricane Katrina a year ago. The volunteers' bright yellow shirts and hats are stained with sweat, but they share laughter and water breaks as they work.

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  • "Athletics plays a big part in your community, and it plays a big part in a lot of kids' lives," said Cathy Broadway, principal at Pass Christian High School.

    The volunteers from Salemburg, N.C., are working on everything from the concession stand and goal posts to the score board and field house.

    Most of Pass Christian High's 480 students are still living in trailers -- a step up from the tent city they lived in right after the storm -- but they said football would help take their minds off the tragedy.

    "When we're on the field, it's erased. When we're on the field, we're playing football, and that's all we're worried about," senior quarterback Chad Moore said.

    N.C. Baptist Men's Disaster Relief has sent 15,000 volunteers to Mississippi in the past year.

    "I'm overwhelmed. I never in my wildest dreams thought that we would have had that many volunteers per day, just day in and day out,” said Eddie Williams, the regional coordinator for the group.

    The group has committed to working in the region for two years. Volunteers already have rebuilt more than 280 homes, and they hope to finish 600 by the time they leave.

    They also plan to finish the Pass Christian High football stadium in time for the school's first home game since Katrina.

    "Without the volunteer efforts, we wouldn't be anywhere close to where we are now. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the volunteers," Broadway said.

    "What we take away from this is the hope that we're giving these people to get back on their feet and the way that it blesses us. We're always in these experiences given more than what we give," volunteer Ivan Byrd said.


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