Canadian Students Volunteer in the Pine Belt

A group of students from Ontario, Canada visited the Pine Belt this week helping victims of the Hattiesburg tornado.  

Dozens of University of Guelph students said they had already planned a trip to visit Hattiesburg before the tornado hit for their winter break. However, their initial plans had to change because of the destructive twister.

“We were going to build a wheel chair ramp for a community member whenever we found out that his house was destroyed that changed,” said Natalie Banaszak, one of the 28 students visiting.

“We're just kind of working with the Salvation Army instead,” said Guelph student Della Rose.

She said being here up close, talking to people changed her perspective on things

“I've never seen anything like it,” Rose said. “I've only see it on TV so to actually be here you feel the emotions more.”

Salvation Army volunteer Amiee Mathis said she knows the students will leave Hattiesburg with a new understanding of what it means to help others.

“They're a bunch of young kids eager to help,” said Mathis. “They've learned a since of community in this disaster.”

“If I can do anything for anyone else in the process I think that's phenomenal,” said Banaszak.

The students will be in Hattiesburg until the end of the week.

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