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Volunteers from Michigan work on several improvement projects in - KOAM TV 7

Volunteers from Michigan work on several improvement projects in Baxter Springs, KS

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It has almost been a year since the April 27 tornado in Baxter Springs, Kansas.

This week, a group of volunteers from Michigan paid a surprise visit to work on several improvement projects throughout the town.

20 volunteers, many of which are kids ages 10 through 17, have given up their Spring Break to love on Baxter Springs.

They have re-painted curbs downtown, along with nearly 150 fire hydrants.

The ball park off Lyons Road has also been given an upgrade.

"When you do a lot of little things, you can make a lot of big changes here," said Sam Devries, 15-year-old volunteer.

The volunteers have also spent many hours helping out at a home off 15th East Avenue that was damaged in the tornado.

"We're doing some electrical work, some painting, dry wall hanging, flooring," said Mary Brander, volunteer group leader.

Work that has not been easy.

"Well, we're from Michigan," said Caleb Voetberg, 14-year-old volunteer. "We get things done!"

Baxter Springs residents say they are extremely appreciative of all the help in restoring forgotten pieces of the town.

"It helps mend the community, not just the property owners," said Sue Gast, Baxter Springs City Council member.

Some of the kids helped out with similar projects in Joplin last year.

"The experience really touched us, so I thought I'd come back for another year and see if I can help out more people," Sam Devries said.

"One of the things that I love when I work is hearing their stories from during the tornado," said Emma Devries, 13-year-old volunteer. "It's fun and it encourages you to work more too."

Volunteers say Baxter Springs will not be forgotten.

"It's been a pleasure to work in Baxter Springs," Brander said. "The people here are very kind and friendly."

And the volunteers will be remembered too.

"We'll make them honorary Baxter Springs citizens," Gast said.

The volunteer efforts were organized through World Renew, a Michigan-based organization.

The kids will be making their 11-hour trip back home tomorrow.
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