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Community gets to work
Singing songs of performers Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, but without accompaniment, teenagers from The Gathering Place spent Thursday refurbishing the outreach building at Safe Harbor Children's Center.

Some painted, some planted, but all had smiles on their faces during the first session of United Way Days of Caring, which continues today.

They were among more than 300 participants from 26 civic, business, military and church groups who turned out to help at the center. Thirty other volunteers worked at the YMCA in Darien.

Cliff Gawron, landscape and grounds manager for the Jekyll Island Authority, brought his crew to re-mulch, build rain gardens and repair the fire escape at the children's center in Brunswick.

"It gives us a chance to give back, especially at Safe Harbor, where we really appreciate their mission statement," Gawron said.

While Gawron and volunteers built a fence, painted sheds and cleared brush outside, groups such as the Air National Guard tore up flooring to be replaced and demolished interior walls to be rebuilt.

Southeast Georgia Health System provided food and drinks to the volunteers.

Leslie Hartman, director of Safe Harbor, was thrilled by the number of people who volunteered at the shelter.

"This just means so much to us and our kids. They've got so much to come back to," she said, looking at the volunteers covered in dirt and sweat.

When the two-day project is complete, Safe Harbor will be better able to serve children through its four programs.

Last year, the center was able to help 113 children bound for foster care and has helped 78 homeless teens the past six months.

Hartman said the home has 18 beds in the main building, which will be spruced up, and six in the outreach building, which will be expanded to create separate areas for males and females.

SBlt Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

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