By JEROD CLAPP
NEW ALBANY — If getting covered in dirt, digging holes and spreading mulch sounds like a good weekend, Hazelwood Middle School can accommodate.
Allyson Kiesler, a seventh-grade social studies teacher, is organizing the school’s second-annual Hazelwood Gives a Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 13. Student, staff and parent volunteers will work to beautify the campus grounds by cleaning up and planting flowers. Kiesler said the students have fun with the dirty work, but they also get a lesson in giving to their community.
“Last year, we wanted to do something where our kids could be involved and show kids at Hazelwood the importance of philanthropy and giving back,” Kiesler said. “It was so successful last year, we decided we’d do it a second year. It was neat seeing how much pride kids took into the work they did.”
She said about 100 people helped last year, between students, staff and parents. So far, students have shown a lot of interest in getting up early and planting Saturday.
“There are a lot of kids who are excited and ready to help out,” Kiesler said. “So far, we have a good turnout of who’s signed up. I think the outcome will be very good and positive for our students and our staff.”
She said they’re still looking for more volunteers this year, as well as any donations in money or plants. A couple of the school district’s board members have signed up for their share of the work.
Mark Boone, New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. board member, said he and D.J. Hines, board president, thought it would be good for them to lead by example Saturday.
“Part of the educational process a lot of people don’t talk about is this, volunteering,” Boone said. “We just thought we would get down and dirty and do some of the hard work.”
Kiesler said Burger King will provide hamburgers for the volunteers’ lunch, but she’s also seeking more partnerships with companies for plants. She said aside from getting a feel for donating their time, students will also get a sense of pride Monday when everyone comes back to school from the weekend.
“I think it goes back to how amazing the difference is when you introduce kids to service and philanthropy,” Kiesler said. “When you actually do this when you want to and not because you have to, they realize the positive impact it has on themselves and the community.”