It is always fun when I find a folder in my computer that I haven’t visited in a long time. That happened on today when I was trying to downsize and get rid of some old, useless news clippings, pictures and, well, junk! Instead of junk, I found a wonderful article about Clay Aiken and his participation in Youth Service Day on April 16, 2005.
Now called Global Youth Service Day, the event is an annual campaign that celebrates and mobilizes the millions of children and youth who improve their communities each day of the year through service and service learning.
Clay joined young people with intellectual disabilities and their Best Buddies in the planting of trees in Hollywood, Florida. The following article is from The Miami Herald and tells more about Clay and the event.
CLAY AIKEN COMES TO VOLUNTEER
DOWN-TO-EARTH IDOLPOP SINGER HELPS PLANT TREES WITH STUDENTS REFURBISHING LINCOLN PARK
by NATALIE P. McNEAL
Dressed in Nike running shoes, navy blue cargo shorts and a lilac-colored polo-style shirt, pop star Clay Aiken was a hit again on Saturday.
This time, though, the former contestant on Fox-TV’s American Idol was not singing, but planting trees and laying fresh mulch at Hollywood’s Lincoln Park alongside a group of student volunteers.
Now the neighborhood has a slew of new trees on its streets, fresh mulch for its park and memories of a pop star visit.
Aiken visited the north central Hollywood neighborhood Saturday, boosting morale for National Volunteer Day participants. At the event, students with learning disabilities planted Foxtail palms along with mainstream school students.
”It’s amazing to see the kids with disabilities and without disabilities working together,” said Aiken, who is a former special education teacher. “Everyone is different and functions at a different level, but can still work together.”
Aiken, who was in South Florida receiving an award for his work with special education children, decided to join the students as they volunteered.
For just under an hour, Aiken gathered mulch, shook hands and held hands, and took photos with the more than 40 student volunteers at the park.
He made new friends with many of them, including Danny Wieder, 18, a special education student at Cypress Bay High in Weston.
Aiken helped Danny put on oversized work gloves to put down mulch. He made sure the gloves fit over the boy’s five fingers.
”Good job, high five,” Aiken told Danny. “You want to throw some more dirt?”
The student volunteers came from Pembroke Pines and Weston.
Fans of Aiken, also known as ”Claymates,” came from as far away as Baltimore and New Jersey to watch him work.
The women — some of them much older than the 26-year-old Aiken — traveled to support their favorite ex-American Idol contestant.
Saturday’s group of volunteers were a mix of Flanagan High Navy Junior ROTC students and others from both Flanagan and Cypress Bay high schools who participate in the Best Buddies program. The program pairs students with intellectual disabilities with mainstream students.
Flanagan High student Adonis Lebada, 17, of Pembroke Pines, helped break down dirt on Fillmore Street for the tree planting.
”It makes me feel good,” Adonis said. “When I plant a tree, I can come back when I’m old and see what I did.”
When I read the article above and see the wonderful pictures, I cannot help but smile.
Clay has been active and making a difference for most of his life!
As we start another week of Clay’s campaign for Congress, I expect to read information about Clay and his active week.
I hope you will stop back as I will try to post all new information as soon as it is available.
Have a wonderful Day!
What a great person he is.
This article was a really worthwhile piece of information – it left a smile on my face with a few tears. It was very touching to see Clay working with this great group of young people and just imagining what they were feeling with Clay working beside them!
Thank you for the pictures and the article. Clay has always work with children and young adults. Thank you CANN.
I remember seeing that photo of Clay helping Danny put his work gloves so long ago. Just think how much more good Clay will do when he is in Congress!