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Bossier schools lend a hand with United Way event

Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey takes time to speak with a Bossier Parish employee during the Bossier Schools Day of Service project at the Keep Bossier Beautiful cemetery clean-up project site in Benton on Saturday, Oct. 23. (Stacey Tinsley)

Hundreds of Bossier Parish Schools students, employees and parents spent Saturday morning participating in one of the largest one-day volunteer efforts in Bossier Parish.

On Saturday Oct. 23rd, volunteers spread themselves throughout Bossier Parish and parts of Caddo Parish from 9 a.m. to noon in order to lend a helping hand as part of the United Way of Northwest Louisiana’s (UW-NWLA) 7th Annual Day of Service held in conjunction with Bossier Parish Schools.

This year’s Day of Service was a hybrid event consisting of 28 collection drives and 13 in-person volunteer projects.

A few examples of these volunteerism efforts include organizing a thrift store, serving at a homeless shelter, assembling quarantine care kits, packing food baskets, hosting collection drives for non-profit agencies that serve our neighbors in need and much more.

UW-NWLA’s Vice President of Community Investments & Operations, LaToria Thomas, says that seeing so many Bossier Parish students and employees volunteering their time and taking the initiative to create another project at the Keep Bossier Beautiful cemetery clean-up project site in Benton has truly warmed her heart.

“When I walked up, I thought this was just going to be an ordinary volunteer day where we help students really and truly grasp the concepts of giving back to a community that pours so much into them. But, I learned that when they got here and saw that some of the babies who passed away didn’t have markers, they created a new project for that. And, that just filled my heart,” Thomas said.

“Bossier Parish students are phenomenal students. They rank at the top of the state every year. And, the number of students that we have that show up for these community service projects shows just how great these students are. It shows how much they care for their community. And, it shows that they really focus on what’s truly important. It shows that they are focused not just on the academics, but that they are also focused on the community around them,” she added.

Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey also joined in to lend a helping hand in the cemetery clean-up project. Downey rolled up his sleeves and worked alongside students from Benton Elementary School and the Benton High School baseball team during a major clean-up of the cemetery.

“This is fantastic. Seeing all the work they have done and how important this is to the community. We just always prioritize service to our students in order to get them to understand the importance of giving back. They have done a great job here today and all over the parish. You have students, teachers and employees spread out everywhere across the parish today. This is something we look forward to doing every year. It’s really important that our students understand the value of service,” said Downey.

Following the conclusion of this year’s Day of Service, a wrap-up party was held for volunteers at the Bossier Educational Service Center. Participants enjoyed food, games and face painting. And, UW-NWLA announced its Day of Service spirit winners.

Last year, the event was adapted to strictly collection drives due to COVID-19. Despite this, it yielded more than 10,000 essential items and $16,000 of economic support for 14 participating nonprofit organizations.

Since its inception, Day of Service has enabled charitable organizations to save thousands of dollars in both man hours and labor costs, as well as receive tangible goods vital to their mission.

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