June 11, 1999
More than 2,200 students, faculty members, community volunteers and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints recently converged on Lakewood High School to revitalize the school and let students know that their community cares.
"This may be the largest community volunteer effort in the history of the Long Beach Unified School District," said Superintendent Carl Cohn, who attended the event. "This is the real way to improve schools; to have local people take this kind of courageous action to support kids speaks volumes."
Sharon Jones, director of public affairs for the LDS Church in east Long Beach, spent hundreds of hours organizing the work day with Lakewood activities specialist Joel Ward.
The volunteers were divided into brigades to tackle the daunting tasks of washing every window in the school inside and out, cleaning every desk, washing down buildings, mopping floors, cleaning the auditorium and scraping gum off every imaginable surface.
Lakewood's makeover had volunteers painting the football stadium bleachers, snack bar and lunch benches and tables. Four truckloads of trash were hauled away, and the roofs to the leaking ticket booths were replaced. The Associated Student Body Organization donated $1,200 to buy plants to beautify the campus.
"One thousand man days of work were accomplished in just four hours with so many volunteers," said John Nimmons, maintenance manager. Volunteers came from Long Beach, Lakewood, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, Cerritos and Bellflower. They ranged in ages from young children to senior citizens, most working together as families. A few even came in wheelchairs.
"This kind of project can offer an antidote to the negative forces affecting our kids," said Al Taylor, coprincipal and a former Lakewood student. "A day of volunteerism offers hope and renewed pride in Lakewood. Teaching students to give service to their community is teaching the whole student. I hope this kind of volunteerism will be contagious."