Not all college students took a break from the library this past Saturday. Volunteers from Georgetown, The George Washington University and Howard University, along with students and parents from River Terrace Elementary School in Northeast D.C., gathered at the school to complete various beautification projects, as well as to construct a family lending library.

“We’ve packed it with different books: cooking books, parenting books, books on how to help your child with homework, [and] we loaded a computer with some resume building software,” said Kate Murphy, Georgetown’s Jumpstart site manager.

The room is split down the middle, with one side for parents and the other “for kids to sit on beanbags and read,” she said.

“The plan was for parents to have a place where they can come during the day,” Lori Fox, Southern regional coordinator VISTA for Jumpstart, said.

The students also completed beautification projects on the school’s exterior, including laying a new stone pathway and planting flower boxes and beds.

While working at the school, some Georgetown students were saddened by the conditions they saw. “What I saw at River Terrace were conditions I was not used to. The D.C. public schools are in bad shape,” said Greg Baltz (SFS ’10), a Jumpstart volunteer. “It’s unfortunate the condition the school is in, but they are taking large steps to improve the situation.”

“Outside, it was clear that they didn’t have a lot of funding,” Lauren Delaloye (SFS ’10) said. “It was pretty poorly organized and poorly funded.”

In working at River Terrace, the students realized their potential to help the city. “It was an opportunity to get to an area in D.C. that most of us haven’t had the opportunity to explore,” Baltz said. “I think students can really do a lot more to make a lasting change in the D.C. community.”

Jumpstart is a nationwide, non-profit organization founded in 1993 whose mission is to work “toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed,” according to its Web site.

Editor’s Note: The original article (THE HOYA, April 8, 2008, A4) incorrectly said that Lori Fox, the southern regional coordinator VISTA, not the southern regional coordinator.

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