Mary Ford gets new look for spring
Margaret Bryant walked more than a mile from her home in the Charleston Heights community to Mary Ford Elementary School on Monday.
The high-poverty school in North Charleston is closed for spring break, but Bryant heard that volunteers were needed to repaint it. She attended the school, as did her five daughters, and two of her grandchildren for whom she is the primary caregiver currently attend.
"I love Mary Ford," she said while stripping painting tape from its walls. "They said they needed volunteers, so I stopped what I was doing to come here. It's like a family."
The at-risk school has been inundated this week with volunteers who are giving its building and grounds a much-needed boost. Their efforts started Saturday when more than 100 people -- from parents and nearby residents to groups such as LoveGave, Communities in Schools and Mission Continues -- came together to do landscaping and begin repainting the school's interior.
The bulk of the work will be continued through Saturday under the leadership of LoveGave, an outgrowth of River Church in West Ashley that unites members of different faiths through a common mission of community service. This is the fourth LoveGave project, all of which have benefited needy schools.
Todd Magouyrk, lead pastor for the church, said LoveGave wants to give financially, but its members also want to give their time. Since approaching Mary Ford Elementary with this idea, they've helped raise nearly $10,000 for paint supplies and their volunteers will be at the school from 6 a.m. until midnight daily through Saturday. They're estimating more than 350 people will contribute their time to the project by week's end, but they'd like more volunteers to help paint the school's 40 classrooms.
Mary Ford Elementary Principal Mary Reynolds said the building could use this sprucing up. She's amazed at how much volunteers have been willing to give, and it will be a morale boost for students and faculty to know so many people gave their time to do this work, she said.
"I'm just so touched that people want to do this, and they want to do it for the Mary Ford children," Reynolds said. "I just think it's overwhelming that this many people would care enough to give up their (days) and do this for the community."
On Monday afternoon, at least a dozen volunteers were scattered throughout the building. One person affiliated with LoveGave offered to watch other volunteers' children so they would be free to help. Others who were painting had taken the day off work.
Bryant arrived at 8:15 a.m. and still was volunteering six hours later. Across the hall, Shredia Boyd stripped painting tape from the walls.
Boyd lives in Union Heights and attended the school as a child. It's the place where she got her foundation, and at the time, she said its teachers were like family. She's been wanting to get involved, and she jumped at the chance to give back on Monday.
"Whatever I can do to help," she said.
Reach Diette Courrégé at 937-5546.