Saturday, Oct. 9, was not a typical Saturday morning for many of McNary High schoolers. Rather than sleeping in or enjoying the next trending show on their favorite steaming service, students from McNary’s Leadership program and the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) met to complete a service project the week prior to homecoming. 

Miranda Colman, a senior at McNary, City of Keizer Youth Councilor and secretary of the Claggett Creek Watershed Council (CCWC), wanted to do a community project. She felt it was important to give back to the community prior to homecoming and felt a project was a great way to kick off spirit week. 

Working with the CCWC and the Keizer Parks Department, she organized and developed a plan to add the recycled wood chips from the Big Toy to the playground at North View Terrace Park.  

Parks staff had the wood chips pre-staged in the parking lot of the park and volunteers quickly spread all of the material out at the playground. They reduced the distance under the slides and the swings and freshened up the main play areas. 

JROTC Master Sergeant Javiar Martin-Vinas empowered his cadets in serving as project leads. They orchestrated the workflow and guided the placement of the wood chips. McNary Leadership and JROTC had a well-choreographed method of filling wheelbarrows, dumping in the appropriate areas and then spreading the material efficiently and effectively. 

The project was scheduled for two hours. The efficiency and expertise of these young people expedited the process and they were complete in just one hour. This allowed Master Sergeant Martin-Vinas to barbeque for his cadets. Each year the cadets have to raise funds to participate in JROTC events and competitions. This year, Master Sergeant Martin-Vinas had challenged them to reach a certain fundraising goal. He promised a barbeque for the success. Having met their goal, Master Sergeant Martin-Vinas took this opportunity to enjoy a beautiful day in the cool sun after a service project. In the spirit of community, he offered his barbeque to the leadership students and others that came to help. 

As the day wrapped up, the students were throwing a football around and enjoying some time in the park. The spirit of volunteerism is still very much alive, especially among the more than 30 amazing high school students and others that chose to give back and spend a day in the sun. 

(Matt Lawyer lives and volunteers in Keizer. He is a member of several city committees.)