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Health news and issues in the Ozarks.

York Elementary Benefits from Day of Caring

Michele Skalicky

CoxHealth employees were hard at work today, but they weren’t at the hospital.  They were donating their time and efforts to help spruce up a local elementary school as part of the United Way’s Day of Caring.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more.

York students have wanted a ball field for years.  And today they got it.  CoxHealth volunteers built a baseball diamond behind the school on W. Nichols during the United Way Day of Caring.  Lisa Alexander was busy shoveling gravel this morning but took a break to talk about the volunteer effort.

"This is something the teachers and principals said the kids have asked for for years--that they never really had a ball field, and so she says, 'is there any chance you could make a ball field happen?'  And so we're trying to make it happen," she said.

Alexander says the ball field is the result of collaboration by several community businesses and organizations.  York principal Dr. Laura Hopper is excited about the opportunity the new play space will provide for her students.

"It means another fun area for them to be able to interact with their friends, and, you know, by playing kickball in an organized way they're going to learn how to work as a team, how to give and take and be flexible," she said.

But CoxHealth employees didn’t just build a baseball diamond for York.  They also mulched and planted in front of the building, painted bathroom stalls and a wall in the multipurpose room, sorted items donated for kids who need school supplies and items for the school’s Sense of Pride Store, which rewards students for good behavior.  They also washed all the school’s windows and helped with other projects.

Cox nurse Stephen Graff hadn’t participated in a Day of Caring event in a few years and, when his employer put together a team, he volunteered.  He says, despite the heat and hard work, he knows he’ll look back and feel good about what he and his coworkers accomplished.

"It's kind of neat to see something that the kids haven't had here before and then to actually be able to get it for them," he said.

Ninety-three percent of York’s students are on free and reduced lunches.  Dr. Hopper says the donations of school supplies and backpacks will help those who still don’t have what they need for the new school year.  And she says, since the school is constantly getting new students, they’ll have what they need right away.

York PTA’s vice president, Christina Harlen, was full of appreciation for the work that was being done.

"This is amazing.  As a parent, this is amazing to watch, you know.  You've got everybody out here coming together and working together--they're cleaning it up.  It's looking good.  It's unreal," she said.

York’s 230 students were curious about the work going on around their school today.  Lisa Alexander says an added benefit of the work her team is doing is getting to serve as an example to the kids.

"This is something that the principal shared with me as well.  She said, 'we're going to use you as an example all day today.'  She says, 'we're trying to tell our children that it's important to give back to your community,'" she said.

More than 1800 volunteers from 113 companies and organizations took part in Day of Caring projects around Springfield today.

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