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Students rake leaves for Forest Park residents

From left, Sparkle Adams, Edie Yongue and Tangela Greene prepare to speak to the students before they hit the road to rake leaves in Forest Park Saturday. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

From left, Sparkle Adams, Edie Yongue and Tangela Greene prepare to speak to the students before they hit the road to rake leaves in Forest Park Saturday. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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More than a dozen high school and college students braved temperatures below freezing Saturday to rake leaves in the yards of elderly or disabled Forest Park residents. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Members of Forest Park Teen Council rake and bag leaves at a yard on North Avenue Saturday. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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From left, Makayla Avery, Sparkle Adams and Suri’el Ector bag leaves at a home on North Avenue Saturday. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Clayton State University’s AmeriCorps members get ready to rake yards on Warren Drive in Forest Park Saturday. (Special Photo)

FOREST PARK — With temperatures well below freezing early Saturday morning, members of Teen Council and Clayton State University’s AmeriCorps could have easily stayed in their warm beds.

Instead, they layered themselves in warm clothes and coats, slid on gloves and caps, wrapped scarves around their necks and headed out with rakes and paper bags to do their civic duty.

More than a dozen high school and college students raked leaves in several yards in Forest Park Saturday, to help residents unable to tend to the chore themselves.

G.E. McLendon, 84, was one of those residents. McLendon fell recently walking to the mailbox of his home at the corner of North Avenue and North Lake Drive. He broke his hip and is on the mend.

In the meantime, leaves were piling up under the tall trees in his front yard.

“Thank you so much,” said McLendon Saturday when members of Forest Park Teen Council showed up to rake up 50 bags of leaves. Participants included Suri’el Ector, Tommy Quach, Ishmael Williams, Kyla Reyes, Dorielle Moorer, Andreaz Jones and Antonio DiStephano.

His neighbor, Sue Keith, was excited to see the teens performing services for others. She walked across North Avenue and took pictures to post on Facebook.

“This is just great,” said Keith. “I love seeing these young people out. I have to show these pictures to my sister, too. She’s going to be thrilled.”

Members of the AmeriCorps chapter at CSU, led by Jennifer Welch, tackled two homes on nearby Warren Drive. Those students were Jenai Polite, Taylor Hughes, Blair Fortson, Reggie Banks, Ramont Glover, Michelle Carter, Catherine Hutchins, Breanna Simpson, Exell Jackson, Megan Mitchell, Ronya Williams, Briana Davis and Joel Lymon.

The cleanup was coordinated by Forest Park Kiwanis Club, Ministers Association, which donated drinks, and Keep Forest Park Beautiful. Kiwanis Vice President Sparkle Adams and her husband, Bernard Adams, Kiwanis member Tangela Greene and Keep Forest Park Beautiful Executive Director Edie Yongue organized Saturday’s event.

Teen Council donated doughnuts and Home Depot contributed the brown paper bags used to contain the leaves.

Adams said it is important for young people to learn community service.

“We’re teaching them how to invest in their community,” she said. “It really gives them a sense of gratification. Just because we’re OK now, doesn’t mean that couldn’t change in the blink of an eye. We could be standing here today and in a wheelchair tomorrow.”