From the Biloxi, Mississippi, Sun-Herald:
Coast gets ‘Blitz’ of help from teens
By LEIGH COLEMAN, SUN HERALD
Entire neighborhoods in Gulfport and Pearlington saw hundreds of teenagers from across the country mobilizing Wednesday to clean up, rebuild and pass out groceries.
The teenage workforce had arrived in the thousands at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg on Saturday to take part in a weeklong conference called “Momentum.”
The special conference is sponsored by CE National and is an annual event with thousands of junior high and high school students in attendance.
As a part of the ministry training sessions, the teenagers go out into the field to serve the community through what has become known as “The Blitz.”
This year’s theme, “X-Treme Makeover: Heart Edition,” was named after the TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
The teenagers and worksite managers have rebuilt rooms, painted homes, fixed up damaged lawns, cleared debris, distributed groceries and entertained the children of the neighborhoods with Christian music and games.
The effort to make over homes and neighborhoods will continue through today.
“These young people are doing a good job,” said Gulfport resident and homeowner Norris Walker. “This is my family home and the kids found the same green paint my father painted the house with years and years ago.”
The teens participating in the blitz this year also joined with Convoy of Hope to distribute several semi-truck loads of groceries and supplies to families in Pearlington and Gulfport.
“We are making a video for our church back home at Grace Brethren in Clinton, Maryland,” said teen worker Katie Vanderhoof.
“I have been filming the workforces all over Gulfport and Pearlington and when we finish a work project, we do not just leave. We have been hanging out in the neighborhoods and playing games with the kids.”
For more than 60 years, the annual event was known as the Brethren National Youth Conference. It is held around the country at a different university each year.
Organizers say they selected the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg because it is close to storm-damaged neighborhoods still needing assistance.
“We worked at a house in Gulfport today where the lady has not had gas or electricity since the storm,” said site manager Charlie Wright of Indiana.
“Our church, Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, has decided to help catch her up on her utility bills. It is hard around here but these people who suffered through Katrina keep hanging in there.”
For more information about Momentum or CE National visit cenational.org.