Hearts and hands

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Many expect school children to spend summer weeks lounging by the pool or relaxing with friends &045;&045; not painting and repairing houses for free.

Volunteering is exactly how about 200 teens and adults have chosen to spend this week, though. The volunteers &045;&045; mainly church youth-group members &045;&045; have come to Selma from a number of states as part of a program sponsored by Group Workcamps Foundations.

Volunteers are scattered across Ward 8 painting, dry-walling, roofing and building. Nights are spent in sleeping bags or on airbeds at Selma High School.

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One volunteer from Lake Providence, La. &045;&045; Crew Leader Mary Minsky, 38, &045;&045; spent Monday painting an Alabama Avenue house as the sun blazed through a blue sky.

Her crew has six pairs of hands from locations such as Louisiana, Georgia, Florida and Illinois. Quartermaster James Reed, 13, of Columbus, Ga., said he expected the west and south walls of the home would be painted Monday.

The east and north walls are planned for Tuesday and Wednesday leaving the living room for Thursday and Friday.

As quartermaster, Reed is responsible for ensuring the group has all necessary equipment. The varied youth groups brought most of the equipment, but some was purchased in Selma.

Reed said he volunteered for the project because he likes getting away from home and traveling.

Progress reporter Rachael Wirth, 17, of Paris, Ill., said she wanted to help the less fortunate.

Work director Kirsten Grooms, 17, of Crestview, Fla., agreed. She said her church’s youth group wanted to go on a mission trip close to home and chose Selma because it’s four hours away by car.

While painting porch columns, Groom and Wirth discovered they shared similar tastes in music. Both have an interest in church activities and choir competitions.

Besides sharing their likes and dislikes, group members also had time to share lunch.

Organizer Sarah Tanksley, 12, of Lake Providence, La., spent most of the morning on the roof but came down long enough to eat sandwiches, chips and bananas provided by breakmaker Andrew Hutton.

Both Tanksley and Hutton spent a portion of the morning on the roof. Today they’ll scrape peeling paint from the underside of the front porch before adding a new coat.

The program is sponsored locally by the Jonathan Daniels Community Development Corporation, City of Selma Weed and Seed and Selma High School.