Coastal Outreach Soccer’s Academic Center received a sprucing up on Thursday, when more than a dozen employees from Rich’s office on St. Simons, a seafood processing company, spent the afternoon volunteering there for the company’s fourth annual “Day of Caring.”
The volunteers spread out dirt in front of the center to prevent water run-off, put skirting around the building, installed a new little library and planted native plants around the center, which is located in Howard Coffin Park in Brunswick.
Rich’s volunteers also worked Thursday at several other local nonprofits, including Habitat for Humanity and Communities in Schools.
“This really is one of the days that our associates look forward to the most out of the year, just because we work in an office behind a desk and it’s great to go actually out into the community and see what some of the different organizations are doing,” said Julie Huckeba, a Rich’s employee who volunteered at Coastal Outreach Soccer.
The program’s academic center opened on the first day of the school year in August and serves sixth to 12th-grade members of the soccer program.
The center provides a free after-school program for the students. Rich’s also previously donated 20 Chrome notebooks for students to use there.
“Our goal as a program is to affect the graduation rate — we’ve had since 2014 a 100 percent graduation rate,” said Shawn Williams, founder of Coastal Outreach Soccer.
These kinds of partnerships with the community help keep the program running successfully, Williams said.
“It’s great to have the support of the community as they are working towards whatever the thing may be, whether it’s academics or whether it’s athletics,” he said. “They have a support system that’s in place and their community is behind them."
Huckeba said nearly 75 Rich’s employees were out working in the community for the “Day of Caring” on Thursday. Each nonprofit they worked with also received a $500 donation.
“We feel really lucky that we’re all able to work and live in St. Simons, and we want to just give back to our local community,” she said.
Inside the academic center, which is housed in a building donated to the program by Glynn County Schools, the floors have been replaced and new bookshelves have been set up and painted. The students have desks at which to complete their school work and receive tutoring.
The next project, Williams said, will be to add 250 square feet to the building, in order to install restrooms. The building currently does not have restrooms and is only able to serve the sixth through 12-grade students. Community Outreach Soccer provides soccer opportunities to local students ages 4 to 18, and Williams hopes to expand the after school academic program to include all ages.
“It’s really limiting right now the kids that we can totally serve in our program,” Williams said.
The project is estimated to cost about $46,000, and Williams said the program is looking for community support to get work started by February.