The howling wind was blowing as much paint back onto Morgan Bell as she was rolling on the fence at Hayden Town Park.
About a dozen students, mostly from Hayden Valley Elementary School, braved the elements Saturday to help renovate the park in a volunteer effort recognizing National Youth Service Day.
Saturday's wind was temperate, however, compared to the cold rain and snow that fell Sunday. Knowing it was coming, a crew of about 25 people, including the elementary students, four AmeriCorps volunteers from Denver's Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, several members of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and school-based mentors from Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek and Hayden, worked to get as much as possible done Saturday.
"Once I heard what we were going to do, I came out here because I wanted to help make the park better than what it is now," elementary student Andrea Lighthizer said as she, Bell, Madison Kopsa and Leila Rinker rolled paint along a fence bordering the park.
Work began at 8:30 a.m. under ominous skies. Several of the older volunteers began filling large cracks in the tennis courts with sand and patch material. Others used pick axes and shovels to dig out the square boundaries of the volleyball court.
Sunday, only a few students came to help, and only about 30 minutes worth of work got done, said Hayden Middle School's AmeriCorps Youth Mentor Adam Garbus.
"It didn't matter so much because we got so much work done on Saturday," Garbus said. "Saturday was an awesome success, especially for the ones who stayed the whole day. I thought it went really well."
Garbus said more work is needed, however, to complete the project. A volleyball net needs to be erected and several hammocks that were made from the old tennis nets also need to be hung, Garbus said.
Garbus secured a $1,000 grant from Youth Service America for the spring-cleaning project. The grant was provided through State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning Awards.
Hayden Middle School was one of 100 applicants selected from a field of more than 850.
National Youth Service Day is a campaign of public awareness and education highlighting the contributions youths make to their communities each year. National Youth Service Day draws together millions of young people and an array of local, regional and national partners, while supporting youths on a lifelong path of service and civic engagement.
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