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Hands on Atlanta set for Saturday

By Michael Davis

More than 16,000 volunteers will be rolling up their sleeves Saturday and pitching in to help beautify community organizations throughout the Atlanta area.

Hands on Atlanta is gearing up for the largest day of service in the country set for Oct. 4 and several community groups in Clayton and Henry counties will be getting a helping hand to spruce up their grounds.

Known as Hands on Atlanta Day, the organization is still working hard to recruit volunteers.

Ruth Green, the HOA Day project coordinator for the Southern Crescent Hispanic Center in Forest Park, said volunteers there will be repairing sheet rock and doing some outside landscaping.

"The project is set up to have between 28 and 38 volunteers," she said. "And we're still recruiting."

Minerva Gauthier, program manager for the center, is excited about the day. With so much work to be done, she said it will be nice to have some extra help for a day.

"There's a hole in the ceiling in the kitchen area, and they're going to fix that and maybe try to build some picnic tables and benches," she said.

Bernadette Highway, director of education for the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Center, whose Stockbridge and Jonesboro locations counsel victims of sexual assault, said that 10 to 12 volunteers would be helping to beautify the grounds at their residential site in Jonesboro.

"Any time that someone from the community contacts us about doing something for the center, we're overwhelmed by the generosity," Highway said. "We've needed the work done for a long time and with our budget limitations, we haven't been able to."

Crystal James, executive director of Green Acres Riding Stable in College Park, said more than 80 volunteers are slated to help repair and maintain fencing around the 20-acre stable and groom and care for the 17 horses. The non-profit stable teaches at-risk children from the metro-Atlanta area how to properly care for and ride horses and ponies, said James.

The stable has been affiliated with Hands on Atlanta for four years, and James said the event is great for kids who enjoy painting fences and caring for the horses.

"We meet a lot of interesting people during the event," said James.

Reynolds Nature Preserve in Morrow will also be getting some help in grounds-keeping work. Manager Stephanie Lucas said so far, 151 volunteers are signed up for the event.

"I'm looking forward to it," she said. "It's going to be great to have that many hands."

Another volunteer site in the Clayton and Henry area is United Cerebral Palsy in Riverdale.

Those interested in volunteering can call Hands on Atlanta to register. The numbers are (404) 979-2800 or (404) 979-2808.