Alexandria D’Antonio is a junior at Royal Oak High School and President of Interact of Royal Oak. This is her first relief trip with the group.

Today was the last work day for our group here in Holly Springs. We’ve been here for almost a week and I can honestly say that I’m going to miss this place. I was with the group that worked at site one from the first day to the last. Our main goal was to demolish a house that one of the tornadoes had torn through.

In the beginning of the week, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The house was just a wreck when we first arrived at the site. We tried to find any more salvagable items for the famiy, but there wasn’t much left to save. We also started to clear the debri created by the tornado so that we could start our own breakdown process to clear the house completely. We just finished clearing up the last bits of debris from the wooden frame that we pulled down today and from a distance it doesn’t even seem like there ever was a home there.

This is my first time doing a trip like this and although I’m a part of the service club back at home, the fundraising and charity work that I did there was nothing compared to the actual hard labor that I’ve done here. And to be honest it is one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve ever had.

It is one thing to be geared up and ready for the physical work that we’ve done in this past week, but that’s nothing compared to the perspective you receive from participating in this trip where you help families in desperate need. A few days ago the homeowner stopped by the house we were tearing down and the glum look he had really made me stop and think about what we were doing. A few other girls and I showed him the items our group had thought would’ve been salvagable and he took a long hard stare at it. He grabbed the items that were still in boxes as well some of the baking pans. Most memorable for me was when he grabbed the Bible from the pile and then told us to throw away the rest of the items.

This trip so far has been amazing. The church that we’re staying at and other welcoming members of Olive Branch, Mississippi have been so heartwarming. These people have also helped put perspective on the matter as well with their grateful manners and support for our group.

Although I am slightly exhausted at the moment, I know that if I’ve done any less work than what I put in I would’ve been very unsatisfied with myself. Every time I’d pick up a pile of bricks or carry large pieces of wood, I always think to myself that I could add one more brick or one more plank of wood because I know that in the grand scale that extra push really makes a difference. Bricks are heavy, I’ve realized, but so has my heart become for the families both in need of help and those who are a part of the help here in Mississippi.