Twenty-one teens gave up their final Friday of summer vacation last week to help make Los Banos a little more attractive.
Crime analyst Megan Soares, along with high school teacher and Councilwoman Elizabeth Stonegrove, organized a graffiti cleanup day.
“It was kind of last minute,” Soares said. “We decided to do it a week ago. I think (the teens) are pretty helpful. There aren’t a lot of parks and rec guys to do it.”
Soares and Stonegrove oversaw the children painting over graffiti at the corner of Regency Drive near Darlington Court and along Travertine Street.
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The teens painted from 8 a.m. until noon and were treated to pizza for lunch. They also received letters from the city verifying their community service, which is coveted by students planning to use it for college applications.
Stonegrove recruited volunteers for the cleanup day during Pacheco and Los Banos high schools’ orientations last week, but she said she did not have to do much convincing.
“I would run into the kids and they would approach me about it, ‘When are we going to have a cleanup day?’ ” Stonegrove said. “The kids enjoy it.”
Soares said she is not surprised that the teenagers want to help. “I remember being super involved when I was their age,” she said. “Kids are willing to be involved if you give them the opportunity.”
Stonegrove said she appreciated Police Chief Gary Brizzee’s involvement last Friday.
“He painted the entire time; it was awesome,” Stonegrove said. “He is someone the kids look up to.”
The city holds about two to three graffiti cleanup days per year, with the number of volunteers ranging from 20 to 100 each time. In the past, the events have attracted volunteers ranging from kindergarteners to adults.
Stonegrove said the city wants to hold these activities four times per year and keep the number of volunteers in a manageable range, 20 to 40 volunteers. Soares said there is discussion of having the next two graffitti cleanup days during the schools’ Thanksgiving and Easter breaks.