Downey students spend MLK Day helping inner city school

DOWNEY - More than 60 members of Downey High School's KIWIN's youth service club joined hundreds of corporate and community volunteers at Washington Irving Middle School in Los Angeles on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.The Title I public school is in the midst of transitioning to a magnet school. Downey kids helped clear out old furniture and text books, re-painted walls and planted a garden. The goal was go clear enough space for a larger incoming student body that will focus on engineering. "It feels good to help spruce up the campus and do away with all this old stuff to make room for the new," said Cory Trujillo, 17, a member of KIWIN's. "I think it's great that so many volunteers made their day off a day of service," added Jessica Samaniego, 16. "I can only imagine how surprised the students will be when they come to school on Tuesday." Teachers at Washington Middle School said they couldn't have done the work without the help of volunteers. "Organizing and clearing out a classroom seems simple, but when you're a school staff, and you don't have a budget, and you don't have people, trying to get these things done is difficult, so that's where these volunteers come in," said Phillip Vizard, who teaches grades 6-8. "What would take our staff years to do these volunteers accomplished in three hours." Various businesses and non-profits participated in the clean-up, including United Way, Kaiser Permanente, Target and Macy's. "We wanted the Downey High School KIWIN's to finish their day of service with a sense of awareness that would change the way they see the world," said Alex Gaytan of the Kiwanis Club of Downey. "I hope these memories will empower them to continue working towards helping others and making our world a better place to live in, just as Martin Luther King Jr. would have wanted."

********** Published: January 31, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 42