About a dozen Greenwood Community High School students came out in the cold to work outside a home, raking leaves into large piles, climbing onto the roof to clean the gutters, washing windows and sweeping the deck.
The home was one of about 30 houses that 170 high school students fanned out to across the city on Saturday as part of the school’s Winterization program, an annual service learning project the school has organized each fall for 25 years.
In past years, the elderly resident would greet the students and thank them for their help. This year, 91-year-old Edith Standley is recovering from a back injury she suffered while cleaning the house, her daughter Madelyn Gentry said.
“She just cleaned too hard,” she said.
Receiving the help from the students before winter comes is incredibly important for her mother, even when she has been in good health, Gentry said.
While Standley still gardens and does her best to keep her house and yard in shape, at her age, certain tasks have become increasingly challenging, she said. Gentry joked that relatives often remind Standley, “You’re not 80 anymore.”
High school senior Alexia Pero, 17, was leading the group of students helping prepare Standley’s home for the winter, one of two houses they had been assigned to on Saturday morning, spending about an hour to go through a series of tasks that Standley had requested.
“It feels good doing something to help people in the community who could use it more than me,” Pero said.
While the Winterization effort is meant to serve as an outreach to members of the community who need assistance, the event is also a learning experience for the students. Students are responsible for organizing the event, which means doing everything from finding homeowners who need help to gathering supplies, donations and volunteers to come out and do the work, service learning teacher Meghan Flanagan said.
Students in two service classes are put in charge, and besides getting a general outline of tasks from the teachers, they’re set loose to set the event up, she said.
For Lawson Roberts, a 16-year-old junior, having the responsibility to help organize the event over the past couple of months has been a lot of fun, she said.
“I really enjoy doing service activities,” Roberts aid. “This activity is something we can do with our friends, and it’s good we can come together and do something for the community.”
At another home on Smith Valley Road, a different set of students were busy at work, with superintendent Kent DeKonick assisting as the chaperone.
Lexy Rees, a 17-year-old junior, said she didn’t mind being outside on the chilly morning since moving around was keeping her warm. Her role in preparing for the Winterization efforts was to get volunteers signed up, with about 170 students choosing to volunteer.
The event is helpful in showing students the value of service to the community and the appreciation of the people who need it.
“This is a great tradition,” he said.