Centralia Students Head to Mississippi
The Sunnydale Academy in Centralia recently returned from Waveland, a small Mississippi town located on the Gulf of Mexico. Waveland Mississippi residents lost everything in the hurricane, but residents say many of them plan to rebuild. So, 38 Centralia students and their teachers took a week-long mission trip to the coast to help them do just that.
The town of Waveland appears as a total loss. But that doesn't deter Sunnydale students - sadly, they have seen this kind of destruction before. They have been on similar mission trips all over North and South America.
"I've been to Mexico two or three times, been down to the Dominican Republic once, been to Peru once, and then I've come down here," Sunnydale student Eddie Christensen says.
Christensen learned skills on those trips that he put to use in Waveland.
"Drywall, framing, put up cinder blocks, almost anything, cleaning, running a chainsaw, clearing brush," Christensen says.
In Waveland, Christensen helped build an interim shelter for volunteers and the elderly to stay while their homes are rebuilt. Students also helped unload food donations and set up the kitchen area. The Morrell Foundation out of Branson, Missouri funds the project that brought Sunnydale to Waveland. And the students' prior experiences with a hammer and nails to be able to build structures like this in less than a day, impressed even the permanent workers in Waveland.
"Having those skills already, they can lead out and show the others how to do it and there's so much going on, our staff, our staff here with Morrell Foundation is half a dozen people and we're spread pretty thin so when people can come in and just take over and start building, which they've been doing, it's just excellent," Morrell Foundation Founder Stan Morrell says.
Morrell says the building at the Waveland site has gone so quickly, the foundation plans to open a second site in the coming days. Christensen says, he and his classmates just hope what they're doing helps Waveland's residents.
"I kind of feel sorry for them, you know, they had their lives maybe perfect and then the storm came in and blew them in, you know, and we were fortunate and so we're just trying to help out and make their life go easier for them," Christensen says.
That's something Morrell says their special skills let them do in record time. The students of Sunnydale returned Sunday from their trip and are so inspired to help that they plan to send another group down south in the next few months. And Christensen says the senior class decided it wants to take its senior trip to Waveland to continue to help rebuild.