LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. – As a senior on the Lake George High School soccer team, cleaning up a handicap ramp at a local church isn't Sarah Kohls' area of expertise, but she's enjoyed the job all the same.
“It’s not easy, but I like it, though,” Kohls said as she scraped weeds out from in between the wooden planks. “It is kind of relaxing and it is busy work, so it’s not too difficult but I like it.”
On Friday morning, Kohls and her classmates went into the community for Lake George's second annual Senior Give Back Day.
“A lot of us, myself included, have lived here for almost our whole lives and have done a ton of things with the community and just want to be able to say ‘thank you,' " said Kohls, who will continue her athletic and academic career at Clarkson University next fall.
“It’s basically just to show your appreciation to the community,” said Ruben Ellsworth, who volunteered alongside Kohls and a handful of others at the Saint James’ Episcopal Church.
Working in small groups, the 17- and 18-year-olds visited a dozen organizations, often performing demanding jobs.
“We’ve been shoveling up weeds and doing a lot of landscaping and gardening, basically,” Ellsworth said.
"They have been so helpful and so willing, and anything we have asked them to do, they have said 'sure,’ " said Reverend Jean DeVaty, who worked alongside the teens at the church.
Other teams served at local soup kitchens, sorted books at the library, aided the Rotary Club and volunteered at the Ben Osborne Fund, a charity named in honor of a fallen soldier who graduated from Lake George.
"It does not have to be the big things; they don’t have to be the hero, necessarily,” said Carmen Ross, a participation in government teacher who helped organize Senior Give Back Day. “It’s the day-to-day things behind the scenes that really help. The people we did this work for, we’re just so appreciative."
As they paused at the end of the morning to reflect on their good deeds, many of the seniors felt they got more out of the day than those they helped.
“At first, I wasn’t really into it, but once I started doing it, it was kind of fun,” said Tyrone Allen, a member of the football team.
“This is how our community is, and we’re just so close and we want to appreciate everyone,” Kohls said.