Airmen volunteer time, effort to school entrance makeover

Volunteers dump of load of rock into a wheel barrow during a beautification project at Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo, N.M., on July 30, 2016. The team spent a total of 234 man hours, during six separate days finishing the task. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Prince)

Volunteers dump of load of rock into a wheel barrow during a beautification project at Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo, N.M., on July 30, 2016. The team spent a total of 234 man hours, during six separate days finishing the task. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Prince)

The entrance to Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo, N.M., underwent renovations by Big Give volunteers in July. The area was damaged due to flooding within the recent years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Prince)

The entrance to Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo, N.M., underwent renovations by Big Give volunteers in July. The area was damaged due to flooding within the recent years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Prince)

Volunteers from the Holloman community pose for a group photo at Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo, N.M., on July 30, 2016. Members of the base volunteered over the course of several weeks to survey the location and provide landscaping services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Prince)

Volunteers from the Holloman community pose for a group photo at Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo, N.M., on July 30, 2016. Members of the base volunteered over the course of several weeks to survey the location and provide landscaping services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Prince)

Volunteers use equipment to dump loads of rock into a wheel barrow during a beautification project at Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo, N.M., on July 30, 2016. The team spent a total of 234 man hours during six separate days finishing the task. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Prince)

Volunteers use equipment to dump loads of rock into a wheel barrow during a beautification project at Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo, N.M., on July 30, 2016. The team spent a total of 234 man hours during six separate days finishing the task. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Prince)

A pile of rock rests near the entrance to Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo, N.M., on July 23, 2016. More than 77 tons of rock was laid to landscape the entrance area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Prince)

A pile of rock rests near the entrance to Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo, N.M., on July 23, 2016. More than 77 tons of rock was laid to landscape the entrance area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Prince)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

(Editor’s note: Last names are being withheld due to operational requirements.)

Every year in the fall, thousands of students prepare for the start of the school year in Alamogordo, New Mexico. There will be new teachers and students, new classrooms and curriculums, and at one elementary school--- a new landscape.

As a part of the Big Give, personnel from the 49th Wing Staff Agencies here volunteered their time and labor toward improving the entrance to Sierra Elementary School.

The Big Give is an annual summer event hosted by the 49th Force Support Squadron where local teams choose their own volunteer service project to assist and serve neighbors in the local community in unique and exciting ways.

The beautification and re-landscaping of the school‘s entrance grounds was a long time coming.

Sierra Elementary School has seen thousands of students and teachers walk in and out of its doors since it was established in 1954. More recently, many have expressed a desire to give the entrance area near the school bus drop-off and pick-up zones a much needed face lift.

“The grass had been washed away from a flood several years, and all that remained was mud and dirt,” said Melissa, the Sierra Elementary School principal. “We wanted to come up with a way to control the mud and dirt that the students would track in and create a more presentable appearance as well.”

Lack of funding, resources and workers to complete the project halted its progress. To overcome this issue, the Parent-Teacher Association for the school, spent several months fundraising. Those efforts resulted in nearly $6,000 to be used for the enhancement of the site.

Additionally, members of the base volunteered over the course of several weeks to survey the location and provide landscaping services.

With shovels, wheel barrows and rakes in tow, more than 40 WSA volunteers showed up after duty hours and in the early morning on Saturdays and Sundays to complete the renovations.

“It’s important for the students and faculty to be proud of the school they work in and attend,” said Senior Airman Kimberly, a 49th Comptroller Squadron executive assistant. “By beautifying the front, we were able to give the elementary school a face lift, and hopefully instill pride into the faculty and students.”

The team spent a total of 234 man hours during six separate days finishing the task

In all, three Raywood Ash trees and 21 Texas Sage shrubs were planted and more than 77 tons of rock was laid around the entrance area.

Thanks to some of the Big Give volunteers from Holloman, more than 400 students and faculty will benefit from the hard work put into this project.

“I couldn’t believe how fast they got it done and how great it looks out there,” said Melissa. “I thank the volunteers so much for the work they’ve done.”

The teachers can now walk into a school with a more pleasant appearance and parents can take pride in the school their children are attending.

“I’ve already heard from parents and students about the changes to the entrance to the school,” said Melissa. “It hasn’t been taken care of for several years, so now when they drive by they can say (to their children) ‘Hey, That’s your school.’”