Christian Yerena (left to right), Carlos Flores and Jeremy Bryan made their community a cleaner place this week. (Submitted photo)

By LANCE MASTERSON

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer youth were busy this week making their community a cleaner place.

This effort was centered on Noren Avenue where the Keizer Boys & Girls Club is located.

“This week is spring break and the theme we chose this year is ‘Spring into Service.’ All of the clubs in Salem and then this one in Keizer are focusing on that theme by doing projects every day that gives back to the community,” said Leana Dickerson, coordinator for the local branch.

One of these projects had youths cleaning roads of debris. Their path took them from Noren Avenue and their branch on the Kennedy School campus to Chemawa Road.

Club member Carlos Flores, who attends Kennedy School, said projects like this are necessary “so the environment is safe and clean … It’s nice to help keep the earth clean.”

A second club member, Kiauna Lunsford, agreed with Flores’ assessment.

“We do it to help the earth,” said Lunsford, who attends Claggett Creek Middle School. “How many people out there don’t care about the world and hurt it?”

Lunsford added members left their path noticeably cleaner.

“We could see the difference,” Lunsford said. “It’s way better.”

The cleanup, which netted three large bags of garbage, was performed Tuesday.

Other projects undertaken this week included litter patrol at Claggett Creek park, creating cards for sick children and soldiers serving in Iraq, holding a boys-versus-girls penny drive for Red Cross and securing donations for the Marion County dog shelter. There was also time to clean the club.

“Giving back is always important. It’s something that we always focus on at Boys & Girls Club. Not only to have fun and do social recreation, arts and crafts, and computer technology, but to give back to our community and to have that sense of ownership over where they live, and that pride for not only the Boys & Girls Club but also their own neighborhoods,” said Dickerson.

Jeremy Bryan, 12, said these lessons are important.

These types of projects “help us understand what helping kind of is, and we help the environment,” added Bryan, who attends Whiteaker Middle School. “I feel good with what we’re doing. It’s fun and it’s helping the world.”

Seven club members joined one staff and 10 volunteers from Salem Baptist Church in the effort.

The club averages 110 members during the school year, though that number dropped to around 80 during spring break.