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Crowd of Volunteers Work to Beautify Schools

More than 250 volunteers from Grand Rapids First Church spent a summer week improving Wyoming Public Schools’ buildings in any way they needed it, interior cleaning, painting, and sprucing up the schoolyard.

The annual “Do It Together” event, hosted since 2008, is a way for the Wyoming-based church to give back to the community, saving money for the district and investing in children, said senior pastor Sam Rijfkogel.Aidan Dunfee, 11, cleans lockers

“As a church, one of the things we really believe is Christ’s teaching that he didn’t come to be served, but to serve,” Rijfkogel said.

He said they realize the need for investment into families and children in the community and schools, especially since the recession.

“A clean environment is good for everyone, parents, teachers and students.”

Lockers were scrubbed, floors vacuumed, trees trimmed and lots of other housekeeping odds and ends were finished at the district’s seven school buildings and Community Education building. Volunteers completed a revamp of the Wyoming High School wrestling room.

Pastor Troy Picou adds a fresh coat of paint“It gives us an opportunity to give back, and there are things I know how to do that I can do,” said church member Sylvia Huitsing.

Last year, 256 volunteers totaled 6,144 man hours during “Do It Together.”

Christi Jirinic, executive administrative assistant for Grand Rapids First Church and servant evangelism coordinator, organizes several programs each year for Wyoming Public Schools’ children including the clean-up week.

She also hosts a “You are Loved” Valentine’s Day party for students and mentors involved in the One Wyoming 1 on 1 mentorship program, and donates embroidered handmade stockings to stuGrand Rapids First Church volunteers Jeff Jirinec and Larry Hollemans spruce up the Wyoming High School wrestling roomdents for Christmas.

While volunteer teams worked throughout Wyoming Middle School, Principal Jon Blackburn said their work is greatly appreciated.

“Grand Rapids First has been tremendous over the years helping us with the beautification of the building,” he said. “It saves obviously on labor. We are able to do some things we probably couldn’t.”

Aidan Dunfee, 11, and Harrison Dunfee, 13, spent time during the first week of summer break wiping down lockers with their mom Nicole Dunfee.

“It’s nice,” Aiden said. “You know you are helping out at a place that really needs help.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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