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Youth Center Service Day Draws Plenty Of Volunteers
Escalon High School junior Alexus Grant, 16, at left and El Portal eighth grader Tayden Huntsman, 13, work together in an area outside the Escalon Youth Center on Saturday, getting ready to spread some fresh bark during a work day to freshen up the facility. Marg Jackson/The Times

More than a dozen young volunteers turned out to help spruce up and beautify the Escalon Youth Center on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Center Director Todd O’Neill said the center has been open for local youths, many of whom come in to use the free internet for school work while the middle and high school campuses remain closed and distance learning is in effect.

That is scheduled to change in early November, with the planned reopening of El Portal, Escalon High School and Vista High School.

But O’Neill said the center will continue to offer a place for students to study, and will continue to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols for social distancing and safety including masks and hand sanitizing while inside.

Saturday, the students and some adult leaders put down new tan bark in areas in front of the center, helped prepare countertops in the kitchen for refinishing and did some general overall cleaning.

“It’s pretty incredible when you announce a ‘work day’ and you get 15 kids to show up,” O’Neill said, smiling.

He believes it is indicative of the local teens’ appreciation for what the Youth Center has provided to them during the pandemic.

“I’m a youth leader in training,” explained Alexus Grant, a 16-year-old junior at Escalon High School. “It’s like a family here; everyone is so kind and welcoming.”

Grant was working in an area adding the tan bark and raking it with help from Tayden Huntsman, 13, an eighth grader at El Portal. Huntsman didn’t mind helping out, saying that he enjoyed being involved with the clean-up effort and liked the various programs through the Youth Center.

“We have been having a Day Camp while the kids are distance learning,” O’Neill added. “We are open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; we provide the free internet for the school work.”

Saturday’s effort also saw a group working on collecting and returning the recyclables stored at the Youth Center, while inside there was cleaning going on to keep the facility in good condition.

O’Neill said that they are also planning a ‘College Night’ informational session for high school junior and seniors, set for Friday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. at the Youth Center. It is open to students and parents and will provide information on college admissions and requirements.

The Youth Center has become a ‘go to’ spot for local teens, with video games, a reading area, ping pong, pool and more available, along with a snack bar.

Again, those visiting the center at 1328 Escalon Avenue are asked to observe the pandemic protocols while they are there.

Opened in August of 2016, the Escalon Youth Center was constructed on the site for the former Escalon Motel and was a ministry project of the Trinity Church, Assembly of God in Escalon.

Taping off the counters to help prepare for refinishing them, volunteer Madison Lovins was among the volunteers turning out for a work day on Oct. 24 at the Escalon Youth Center. Marg Jackson/The Times