Starting this week, students across the country will trade swim trunks for tool belts and team up with United Way to make a meaningful impact in communities across the country. The work begins along the Mississippi Gulf Coast where over 75 student volunteers have converged to get to work in Biloxi, MS. Teams of students will work throughout the week on a variety of projects, some still related to Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, other projects will focus on those underlying issues related to education, income and health that keep individuals and families from achieving their full potential.
As many South Mississippi families are struggling financially due to the economy, long-term recovery from Katrina and lingering effects of this summer’s oil spill, volunteers will work to improve their financial stability by providing low-income families with income tax preparation in hopes of maximizing the use of the earned income tax credit. This is a credit for working families, and may result in a refund of up to $5,000 to help families survive these extremely difficult economic times.
Others will work on United Way’s health related focus by organizing and hosting a Health & Resource Fair on Wednesday, March 9th at Mercy Housing & Human Development, 1135 Ford Street in Gulfport. This free fair will have services offered throughout the day, including blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, bone density, BMI screenings and more. Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about financial planning, mental health resources in South Mississippi, and disaster preparedness.
United Way Worldwide continues our Alternative Spring Break tradition for the sixth year, providing young people from across the country the opportunity to serve communities across the US through on-the-ground volunteer opportunities. College-age volunteers are devoting their time off working not only in Biloxi, MS but will also be working throughout the month of March in El Paso, Texas; Washington, D.C.; Boston, Massachusetts; Newark, New Jersey; and Detroit, Michigan.
Throughout the month we will be updating and posting stories and pictures of the students' work in Biloxi and around the country– so stay tuned.