Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News
The Bowie High School football team pitched in to help clean up tornado damage in a hard-hit area of Arlington on Thursday.
The Bowie High School football team decided on Thursday to skip lifting weights at school and instead get exercise by helping tornado victims.
"We came out here to show some love," said player Kris Thigpen. "It didn't happen to us, but it could have happened to us."
Their coach, Kenny Perry, said the experience provides the players a lesson -- about real life.
"I think it's the right thing to do -- just kind of giving something back," he said.
Thigpen, 16, said he was shocked by the destruction he saw in one of the worst-hit neighborhoods in South Arlington.
"We're glad to be out here," he said.
Team members carried heavy branches and put them in neat piles along the curb.
The team's mascot, appropriately enough, is the Volunteers.
"It's hard working, but we are getting something done, helping the people," said player Nate Staton.
Resident Linda Horton said she thought it was "awesome" that the team was helping out.
"It just shows that our youth, they really do care about what happens in this city," she said.
None of the football players had any damage to their houses. Many of them saw the destruction first-hand for the first time Thursday.
"It's more than I expected," Thigpen said. "Mother Nature -- you can't control her."
Another player, Mokom Ngufor, said the team was trying to make a difference and boost victims' spirits.
"We are trying to comfort them and make them feel good about the situation, that there are positive things about the future," he said.
Homeowner Latosha Williams, whose front yard was littered with broken branches from a fallen tree, said she was grateful for their help.
"I just looked out the window and I was like, 'Oh my God,'" she said.
As the sound of chainsaws filled her front yard, she yelled a message to the players: "Thank you so much!"
A player shouted back: "You're welcome, ma'am."