WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Many helping hands apply TLC at school

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A hundred sets of helping hands can make a difference in a day.

When Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts and parishioners from First Baptist Church descended on Winstead Elementary School early Saturday morning, they meant business.

Outside, crews chopped, cut, cleared and pruned the plants. Inside, hallway walls were cleaned of grime and made to shine. Scouts made shelving for a clothes closet to help needy children. A former school librarian led an effort to fill welcome baskets of school supplies for all the incoming teachers.

“I am grateful and very thankful for the support that we get through several aspects of the community,” said Claudia Spencer, school principal. “This is just one small piece, but it is a huge piece that will help with aesthetics inside and outside and also will give back to our students with the clothes closet when students need an additional piece of clothing.”

As Spencer stood by the front entrance to the school, Scouts were spreading topsoil after spending the morning clearing out the dead wood.

“Even out here, it creates an open environment and just helps to make everything look nice,” Spencer said.

“We are removing a flower bed in the front of the school and just trimming everything up and making everything look nicer around the school,” said Nathan Spencer with Boy Scout Troop 49. “It’s just kind of nice.”

“I’m working on a clothes closet here at Winstead Elementary to get some clothes to some kids who are in need,” said Garrett Johnson with Boy Scout Troop 381. “We are building some shelving units and basically justing putting some stuff together to hold the clothes. The Girl Scouts are going to come in later, and they are going to have some sort of clothes drive to stock the shelves.”

Nathan Spencer, a student at Fike High School, and Garrett Johnson, a student at Hunt, are working on Eagle Scout badges.

Madelyn Clairewalls and Emma Spencer, both of Girl Scout Troop 92, are working on the clothes closet for their Silver Award project.

“It’s going good,” Madelyn said. “It feels like I am making a difference.”

“We are collecting clothes from people around Wilson, and we are going to put those clothes in the clothes closet to help the school,” Emma said.

“At First Baptist, we are always looking for mission opportunities out in the community. We thought that it might be a good idea to talk to Claudia to see if they had some projects at Winstead that she knew she might have problems getting done before school,” said Tim Rogers, a First Baptist Church member. “We know that Winstead is a Title 1 school. We have had projects here before. Our CHEW Program works with them. We have two members of the congregation who are former teachers here. So there is a lot of familiarity with Winstead.
Susan Johnson, youth minister, said the church talked to the principal to find out what was needed. “We don’t have the personnel in the school system now to provide all the people to be able to do all this work, so the community coming out together makes it all good,” Johnson said.

Suzie Rusnak led The Missions on the Move Group from First Baptist Church on a project to create welcome baskets for the incoming teachers.

Rusnak worked as a librarian at the school for nine years.

“It’s my home school. It was the first one I ever worked in,” Rusnak said as volunteers filled plastic baskets with anything a teacher might need or want, including read-aloud books, pencils, pens, paper, notebook paper, glue sticks, anything a teacher might need in the classroom.

About 100 volunteers between the church members and the Scout projects worked together at the 102-year-old school.

“We have fanned them out all around,” Rogers said. “There are crews all over, and we are going to accomplish what we can. From the First Baptist’s point of view, God has given us the ability to come out and help people in the community and that’s what being a church is, being the hands and feet of Christ out here, so that’s what we are doing.”

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