Augusta students walk around the city picking up trash on the road as part of a way to give back to the community during their Hugs for Humanity event on Friday, May 4.

A helping hand for humanity

Augusta School District participates in second annual Hugs for Humanity event

By Brian Sheridan

All year long the school district has sporting events, fundraisers and other activities they often ask the people of Augusta for help with.

But one day year, they all get together and give back to the people.

The Hugs for Humanity event kicked off last year and after the success and praise, it has come back again on Friday, May 4 to support community members, organizations and businesses around Augusta as part of a community service initiative to give back.

The Augusta students, around 600 in total, spread far and wide across the Augusta area to help with picking up trash on the highway, assisting senior citizens, cleaning up for the Lions Club and more. Students were involved with the event process and they brainstormed ideas for what they were going to do this year for Hugs for Humanity.

More student groups were involved with the community service project this year as they found new ways to get actively involved, such as the girls basketball program raking Lions Field, One Act students cleaning the community center theater and SPED students cleaning the flower garden for MRS Machining.

Jennifer Lippert, third grade teacher, said she had the kids look at different community activities and the they chose to make tie blankets for local organizations. They donated the 12 blankets they made to the nursing home as well as the fire department.

“I think it’s great for the kids to give back to the community and I think some of them are making real good connections,” Lippert said. “They say ‘I know someone at the firehouse’ or ‘I know someone at the nursing home.’ I think it’s nice they’re making connections to their community.”

The Augusta School District sent out a survey in a district newsletter months ago asking if area businesses or organizations have a project that needs to get done. They found a number of new places that learned about Hugs for Humanity and were able to get them to be part of the day.

Samma Johnson, assistant librarian for Augusta Public Library and headstone cleaner for East Lawn Cemetery, got the sixth-grade class to come down and help her clean 30 of the headstones. The time-consuming effort could take anywhere from 12-16 hours a day for her.

“If they can clean all the stones I have marked, that’s probably three days of work for me,” Johnson said. “On a really good day, I can do maybe 10 stones.”

Jen Willms, partnership coordinator for Augusta School District, said Hugs for Humanity also provides a learning experience for the students as “become productive citizens where they will learn to give back to their community.”

She said by teaching students to make a difference, nor matter the size, the student can learn to make an impact on the community.

“Today was all about us working together for the greater good of the community, not just thinking about ourselves,” Willms said. “By helping the community feel good, we’re also feeling good about it along the way. It makes us feel good to help other people out in the community.”

She said the school is hoping to expand the community service effort even further next year as they reach out to more businesses and organizations and well as individual community members.

“I’m just very happy our administration lets us do this that they value the importance of giving back,” Willms said. “It’s just a wonderful thing.”

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