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Schools Get Makeover On New York Cares Day

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Public schools around the city got a makeover Saturday as part of the 21st Annual New York Cares Day. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

It only took a few hours to turn a drab playground into a beautiful and colorful space for the students at the PS 12-Dr. Jacqueline Peek-Davis Elementary School.

The walls had not been painted in nearly a decade but on Saturday, dozens of volunteers gladly donated their time and labor to spruce up the schoolyard.

"It's important to help the community," said one volunteer. "It's important to help the children so they can see that we care."

"Kids need a good place to learn and they need to be inspired come to school and if I can help to do that, I will," said another.

These volunteers were among the 6,000 who fanned out across the city to help revitalize more than 90 public schools as part of the New York Cares Day fall event. More than half of the schools were in Brooklyn.

"There's a lot of schools in Brooklyn that need the attention and that's great because the bottom line is, these young people, this is our future and so we have to make sure these kids excel," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

The volunteers created gardens, organized libraries and painted classrooms, murals and outdoor spaces.

New York Cares also has volunteers who work in public schools year-round.

"This year, they are doing anti-bullying work," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. "They are doing work in fitness and nutrition and doing those types of things benefits our students in the long run."

"Budgets have been tight for many years," said Gary Bagley, the executive director of New York Cares. "And that's a way volunteers and New York Cares can help out. Another way we wanted to help is to raise awareness, so that New Yorkers would understand that everyday citizens can help and have an impact in the schools."

The group said it filled about 150,000 volunteer positions in the city last year but many more need to be filled.

"You can do anything from visiting seniors, tutoring kids," Bagley said. "You can walk dogs, take care of cats. Or you can help an adult prepare for the work force."

For more information, go online to newyorkcares.org.

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