Volunteers from 28 States Help West Clean Up Schools - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Volunteers from 28 States Help West Clean Up Schools

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Six months later, the town of West is well on its way to rebuilding: Thirty new homes, 165 building permits -- there's a lot going on.

But there's still a lot to do.

And on Sunday, volunteers from all over the country helped cleanup. They were in Waco for a national conference on hunger, but they just couldn't leave central Texas without a stop in West.

"Just trying to make it look a little better," said Erin Tyrell.

A Tennessee native, Tyrell knows first-hand how much it helps to have volunteers pour in after a tragedy.

"Nashville had a huge flood in 2010, and we had people come from all over the southeast, all over the country to help us try to rebuild our town," she said, "so I feel like it's really nice to be able to give back."

She's one of about 90 people from 28 states from a group called VISTA, Volunteers In Service To America.

Despite recent rains, they spent hours Sunday cleaning up the schools in West, putting gravel back on the elementary school playground, taking apart old bleachers, and removing debris.

"For me," said Lynne McMullen of Minnesota, "this is about what I would want to see if something like this were to happen in my community."

It's volunteers like them, six months after the explosion, that mean so much for the efforts to rebuild.

"We're more of a volunteer-driven recovery," said Mayor Tommy Muska. "We're recovering from the bottom up instead of the top down."

"I hope it does make a difference, and I hope that people do know that people out there care and that we're here to help the best we can," Kristin King, of Portland, Maine, said.

Whether it's stripping off the old or putting things back where they belong, it's help where West needs it.

"Just wanted to lend a hand while we were close by," Tyrell said.

Volunteers had planned to set up a temporary library, but they couldn't get into the high school to get the books, because it hasn't been made safe just yet.

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