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Lending a helping hand; McCarroll students give back in community service program

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, November 18, 2017
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Helping Hands

HELPING HANDS – Decatur coach Heath Griffin shows his enrichment class what to do during Wednesday’s community service project. Photo by Brandi Cabanero

Eunice Ruiz held out her hands, showing off the dark remnants of dirt from planting flowers and pulling weeds at the Decatur Visitors Center Wednesday morning.

“I got dirty, but it was fun,” Ruiz said. “I liked taking time off from school and being part of helping the community.”

Ruiz joined other eighth graders in performing a variety of tasks around the Decatur Square as part of a community service program “McCarroll Gives Back.”

Counselor Cindy Barksdale said the school revived the program three years ago.

“It’s time for our students to give back. You can’t be a leader if you don’t know how to serve,” Barksdale said. “This is part of us teaching social skills. We talk about how much Decatur gives to our students. This is our way of showing gratitude and paying it forward.”

Paint Detail

PAINT DETAIL – Zhakary Fletcher, Elvin Cabrera, Maria Vargas and Avery Miller paint a rail near the Decatur Visitors Center. Photo by Brandi Cabanero

Main Street Director Frieda Lasater helped line up the projects for the students, which included picking up trash along the nine blocks around downtown and cleaning up at the visitors center and courthouse.

“They changed planters, cleaned and swept out the basement of the visitors center, washed windows and set up a bunch of Christmas trees,” Lasater said. “It’s a great program. It gets a lot of kids downtown to see what’s here. When they do these community service projects, it becomes personal. It’s helpful to us too because it’s a lot of manpower.”

Eighth grader Carson Wicker worked inside the visitors center, fluffing Christmas trees to get them ready to be decorated.

“It was fun. It’s nice to be able to help the community,” Wicker said.

Kristen Miller joined Ruiz in working outside in the flowerbeds, pulling weeds and spreading mulch.

“It was different. I never do any community service,” she said.

Barksdale hopes the experience will be something that makes students more apt to help out and take on similar projects as they move into high school next year.

“Community service is so important for scholarships. It’s important for them to find ways to help,” Barksdale said.

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