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Aid project helps those in need
Registration fees, donation fund projects
Zack Szabo, 16, removes dirt Thursday while building a wheelchair ramp. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Now that school is out for the summer, most teens are enjoying the chance to sleep in and take it easy, but some are making better use of their time.

Eighty teenagers from across North Georgia are using their free time to help others.

The teens are participating in the 33rd annual Gainesville Aid Project this week. It was started by Antioch United Methodist Church as a mission project.

“We’re doing varying things from yard work, painting, roofing and building ramps. Pretty much anything that needs to be done,” said Bill Scholz, chaperon and group driver.

The church looks for people who need help through several channels, including seniors and disability groups.

“We try to do whatever we can for anyone who asks. We don’t put any stipulations on it. We just assume that if someone asks, they need the help,” Scholz said.

A group of six teens, who call themselves “gappers,” spent the day building a wheelchair ramp for Brenda Fields in Gainesville.

The teens tore down her old, rotted ramp and spent most of the afternoon setting the posts for the new one.

The project involved a bit of trial and error for the teens, as most had limited experience with building. Scholz and another driver were there to lend the teens tools and help with the project.

The funding for the projects comes from the teens’ registration fees and donors.

Fields said this is the second time the gappers have built a ramp for her. The group built the original ramp several years ago and came back to replace it this year because the wood started to rot.

The group decided Thursday that it would do more than she’s asked this time. They’ll return today to build a front door.

“I think this is wonderful. I sure do,” Fields said.

The teens say they feel the same way.

“I think it’s awesome that we get to help people,” Emily Dailey, 17, said.

Dailey has been participating in GAP since she was 12. She calls herself a second-generation gapper. Her parents met at the camp in 1993.

She said she comes back every year because of the way the program brings people from different walks of life together.

Fourteen-year-old Victoria Carnes is also a second-generation gapper. Her father, aunt and uncle all spent summers helping those who need it through the program. She said her first experience with the group has been great.

“It’s been really fun actually. I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve heard so many stories from so many points of view,” Carnes said.

She said she’s enjoyed making new friends and that having to work together on the project makes bonding easier.

She said she’s also glad to have the opportunity to help people.

“I know this is really going to mean a lot to (Fields) so I’m glad we can help her,” Carnes said.

Scholz said a lot of the people helped are surprised the teens want to do it.

“They are always amazed that there are teenagers in this day and time that are willing to come and do things like this for them and spend time with them,” Scholz said.

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