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Teaming up for a Day of Service
Anthany Hernandez sweeps dirt and debris off of the sidewalk with the help of Jonathan Alanis, left, and Bujar Bexheti behind him. (Times photo: Susan Endres)
MONROE - Students from Monroe High School set out again Thursday to contribute to their community through a citywide Day of Service, sweeping alleyways, painting curbs and even making buildings a little brighter.

Clad in bright green shirts emphasizing the importance of volunteer work, high schoolers walked the sidewalks scanning for litter, scoured downtown alleys with rakes and brooms and helped Main Street Monroe by painting.

Main Street Promotions Co-Chair Tracy Hamilton, a coordinator of the day, was overseeing a trio of painters at the former municipal ramp parking lot downtown just off the Square. Since the decades-old ramp was demolished, a number of concerned citizens have voiced issues with the appearance of the buildings no longer hidden by it.

Hamilton, along with three MHS juniors, were repainting the structure on the north side of the lot and preparing it for new boards. Hamilton added there will likely be a mural there in the future.

"We just want to make things look nice, and if we can help out by doing it, even better," Hamilton said. "A little TLC makes this town look a little better."

The students, Cierra Larson, 17, Daniel Lapp, 16, and Kennedy Foulker, 17, had been at the location since roughly 9 a.m., continuing their work for a few hours. They were able to choose what tasks they worked on.

"It's outside and it's what people see, and making the town look better," Foulker said.

Larson added that the choice was because "you can actually see what we're doing" and feels the event is important because it shows "students are involved in their community."

All of the students had been volunteering with the day since they were freshmen.

Main Street Executive Director Jordan Nordby was also part of the work. He said in the fifth year the organization has helped coordinate, he felt the 15 students who chose to help in the downtown with general upkeep like cleaning up debris and painting curbs were doing well.

"It's been really good," Nordby said. "A lot of stuff needs work."

Student volunteers also painted items for the upcoming summer theme hosted by Main Street.

Junior Hailey Betthauser, 16, was happy to help Main Street for the third year as part of the day.

"I just wanted to try something new every year to see what it was like," Betthauser said. "To give back to the community. We need it to look nice and keep it nice. I think that when we're doing it young, we'll probably keep doing it as we get older."