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Yukon parks to benefit from annual project

More than 900 people are expected to converge Friday at Yukon’s three-park complex to do a little renovation and restoration.

For the 12th consecutive year, students, parents, teachers and alumni of Southwest Covenant will participate in the school’s Patriot Project.

The event begins at 9 a.m. when the groups join together at Chisholm Trail Park, Freedom Trail Playground and City Park. For the third year, a group also will work at Taylor Park on the northwest side of Yukon.

The Patriot Project is a one-day event that partners the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Southwest Covenant, a private Christian School for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Yukon Parks and Recreation director Jan Scott said crews will weed, paint and landscape throughout the complex.

“It helps us tremendously. They bring 900 people and attack that complex,” she said.

“What 900 people can do in one day is just amazing. It’s not just the students. It’s parents, grandparents and teachers,” she said.

Scott said many of those who come have skills that benefit the process.

She said a few years ago, a student’s father was a landscaper who helped install a rock terrace. The labor was free. The city purchased the boulders.

“We’ve got so many great projects over 12 years,” she said.

This year, the project will involve a lot of gravel and rock. Scott said they plan to work on the trails, replacing rock that has been washed out.

“We are very happy with them (Southwest Covenant). They always have a servant’s heart,” she said.

Headmaster Steve Lessman said all 434 students at the school will participate. It is an effort to show the importance of giving back to the community.

“It really is a win-win-win. We want to serve the community. We live in this community, we love our community and want to not be a burden but a blessing. We want to teach our students that it is important to serve,” he said.

In addition to the benefits for the city parks, the school also reaps rewards. Each student is asked to help raise funds by seeking sponsors.

“Our students aren’t thinking about it being a fundraiser, they are thinking about getting out and serving the community, which I am proud of,” he said.

Lessman said the project is the school’s biggest fundraiser. Many companies as well as those in the private sector prefer to give to the Patriot Project rather than purchase typical fundraiser items, such as popcorn and cinnamon rolls.

“The students are being encouraged to live a life of service, the community is blessed with the fruit of their labor and then our school is blessed with people who come along and partner through the donations,” he said.

This year’s project also benefits from the local Lowe’s Home Improvement Store, which is making a sizeable donation as well.

Store manager Todd McClain said the store receives an amount to donate to a local project each year, and chose the Patriot Project.

He said several employees also will volunteer for the project.

In previous years, the store has helped with organizations like the Manna House.

“We wanted to do something with a bigger impact on the community this year,” he said.

In addition, local barbecue restaurant Bad Brad’s is providing the lunchtime meal.

Scott said the work is part of a longstanding partnership.

“It’s a great partnership we have with Southwest Covenant. … I can’t describe in words how wonderful it is,” she said.

Because of the project, the four parks will be closed on Friday until about 4 p.m., city officials said Monday.

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