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Local residents join in national day of service
Gracyn Potter, 8, picks up a piece of paper Monday afternoon at Wauka Mountain Elementary School as she joined family members cleaning up and beautifying the grounds at the school for day of service.

Bundled up against the cold and armed with trash bags and a shovel, Tiffany Potter and her two children headed to Wauka Mountain Elementary School on Monday for a day of community service.

She wanted to show Gracyn, 8, and Fenton, 6, "what a difference we can make in the community and that it’s important to become involved and make the community a better place to be," Potter said.

Other area residents took up special causes — and in some cases, like the Potters, braved chilly weather — as part of a national day of service.

Potter arrived by mid-morning at the North Hall school, where Gracyn attends third grade and Fenton is a kindergartner, to pick up trash and plant trees. They also brought the family’s 5-month-old French bulldog, Lola.

Potter said she had heard about the service day through her children’s school and an e-mail she had received.

She was searching for different events for her and her children to attend but was unable to find the right one. So, she decided to craft her own event, based on already familiar work.

"I’m a parent volunteer (at the school)," she said. "There are several of us who come out and do this on a semiregular basis."

Potter added that she is an intern with the Georgia Master Gardener program and "this helps me fulfill my community service hours for that program."

The national day of service traces back to 1994, when Congress designated it as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

This year’s event is plugged as "Renew America Together" on a Web site that helps link interested volunteers with events in their area.

Or, as was the case with Potter, Americans can develop their own events and post them.

The Web site says that Barack Obama, set for inauguration today as the nation’s 44th president, "is calling on all Americans to do more than just offer a single day of service to their cities, towns and neighborhoods."

"He is asking all of us to make an ongoing commitment to our communities. Never has it been more important to come together in shared purpose to tackle the common challenges we face."

Other Monday events listed in the area included blood drives at American Red Cross’ donor center at 311 Jesse Jewell Parkway and at LifeSouth Community Blood Center at 1200 McEver Road Extension, both in Gainesville.

A "game day" also was planned at Chestnut Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Cumming.

And a clean-up day was set to take place at the Cedar Hill Enrichment Center, an 18-acre wooded retreat in Forsyth County, but was postponed to Saturday because of freezing temperatures, said Kerry Rosewall, volunteer coordinator with the Forsyth County Community Connection.

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