Hands on Atlanta partnered with Newell Rubbermaid to bring a corporate work day to Cross Keys High School this past Saturday, October 3, 2009. The bright fall day was ideal for the project. Over 200 souls gathered around the flag pole in front of the school in the early morning cool.
I couldn't pass up the chance to pitch in at the school so I joined in. I wanted to help in any way I could but I also wanted to see who actually showed up and thought I might be able to recruit new supporters for the school.
I met Andi (thank you!) from our site bloggers for breakfast at Waffle House and we headed over to the school. I immediately ran into at least three "joe citizens" from Brookhaven neighborhoods who heard about the event from this blog and others and wanted to volunteer. It was very clear very quickly that it was going to be a good day.
The management contact for Newell Rubbermaid stood up on the flag pole dais to welcome everyone and to thank them. She also said it was her 1st visit to the school. She had arrived early to take a tour and, as she described it, was nearly moved to tears by what she saw. She said privately that Newell Rubbermaid could stay there working for a year and still not do all that was needed. She was proud of her company and its employees for volunteering to help on this day.
Our principal, Dr. McMillan, stood up and welcomed everyone by telling them how proud she is of her students. She told guests that, in spite of what they might see in the facilities, Cross Keys was blessed with great students and faculty members. She was particularly proud that over 100 of the students showed up on their own to help with the work.
I was blown away by the turn out of the students - with very few exceptions, they were there on their own. We are talking about over 10% of the student body showing up for manual labor on a beautiful October Saturday folks! Would another DCSS High School have this kind of turn out for hard labor? I don't know but Cross Keys sure did!
I talked to two students separately that both had traveled an hour by bus, train, and on foot to make the event. Many went to their own jobs after spending the morning working hard at the school. How impressive are these young people?
The folks running the project did an excellent job of identifying the projects, organizing the teams, and empowering the work on site. We cleaned gutters, installed concrete paver walkways (my back is still sore!), painted, beautified landscaping (including a butterfly garden), and installed storage solutions in classrooms and in the gym (it was Rubbermaid, after all!).
In addition to just making the place look a little better, the work as designed to help the students and faculty deal with the fruit salad turnover going on now during renovation. Many teachers have lost their rooms, storage, and their classes are sharing temporary space with others. The additional storage management solutions provided this day will be very valuable through the reno period.
A very inspirational day for me. As with every other interaction I have with the young people at Cross Keys, I was struck by their quality. We truly have some of the best at Cross Keys and they showed it once again on Saturday!