Senior Connor Skillings, front, helps clean Rick Green’s yard Monday on Royal Avenue in Rumford. Skillings was one of 10 Mountain Valley High School students and staff who provided two hours of community service during Make A Difference Day. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — Mountain Valley High School students and staff provided two hours of community service Monday during Make a Difference Day.

The service was organized by students with Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, which partners with public education and private businesses to offer results-driven solutions to ensure all Maine students graduate, attain post-secondary credentials and pursue meaningful careers.

It was held a week later than planned due to inclement weather. Among the chores done at some 20 sites in Rumford and Mexico were raking leaves, cleaning gardens, stacking firewood and painting.

A dozen students and a teacher worked at the home of Kim and Mitzi Sequoia on Penobscot Street in Rumford.

“This means a lot,” sophomore Autumn Pollis said. “Just something small to give back and help people out. I hear so many people complain about this town. Might as well do something to help clean it up.

“I’m hoping to do this stuff for awhile,” she said. “I recently started volunteering and it’s very rewarding, very nice.”

Among the tasks performed were digging a hole for an old weather vane, moving rocks from an old fire pit, and moving some railroad ties so Kim Sequoia could get to some blackberries.

“I’m very grateful,” Kim said. “My back hasn’t been well. This has just been a blessing. It almost makes me want to cry.”

At another site, 10 students and two teachers helped clean Rick Greene’s yard on Royal Avenue in Rumford.

Senior Connor Skillings said, “We all care about giving back to our community. And we want to try to do whatever we can to make it clean. And Mr. Green is a teacher at our school and we want to show that we appreciate him. So helping out his yard is the least we can do.”

JMG job specialist Larry Thornton said the students came up with ideas on how they could help and took requests from people and local businesses. He estimated about 300 students participated in Make A Difference Day.

Thornton said the day is not part of any particular curriculum at MVHS. “It’s just a way to get students to recognize the need to be more civically and socially responsible within their communities,” he said.

Due to health and safety issues, staff and students were not able to enter homes or basements. At businesses everyone was masked, including the owner and employees.

Thornton said Make A Difference Day used to held annually but eventually was discontinued. After a recent staff meeting when someone mentioned it, “I brought the idea back to my JMG students.”

Principal Matt Gilbert decided to go forward.

School Library Director Mary Gamble who helped at the Sequoia home said, “I’m excited. I hope this becomes an annual thing.”

A dozen Mountain Valley High School students and staff work Monday at the home of Kim and Mitzi Sequoia on Penobscot Street in Rumford. The community service done in Rumford and Mexico was part of Make A Difference Day for students in the Jobs for Maine Graduates program. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times


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