SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Looking at her yard, Martha Kniep cannot help but be proud.
"Well now, you girls should be in the picture," Kniep said to the volunteers working on her house.
Kniep says the upkeep on her house is just too big of a job for her to handle by herself.
"I lost my husband in June," Kniep said, noting it was not long after they had celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.
But she does not have to worry because the volunteers from The Serve and Learn Student Association, or "SALSA" and Habitat For Humanity have it covered. They spent Friday scraping old paint off the house and priming it so they can paint it the next day.
Jamie Withorne, a junior from Washington High School, and most students in Sioux Falls had the day off from school. They could have spent the day relaxing.
"This is fun and it's rewarding and it's good to see how we can all get together and help the community," Withorne said.
SALSA is a student volunteer group with about 1,700 members from several schools. Members will paint houses and rake leaves; basically do anything that is volunteer-based. The group is helping kick-off Volunteer Sioux Falls, an annual event sponsored by the Helpline Center that promotes helping out in the community.
"Oh it's so wonderful. I've had them paint it before, but never with the Habitat. They're doing such a good job," Kniep said.
Sara Carothers from the Helpline Center thinks the work done here could have a ripple effect.
"Especially when you're talking about teenagers and younger children, when people see them volunteering, it definitely sends a message that I could do this too," Carothers said.
There are no textbooks or calculators here, but for these students, a paintbrush and some primer seems to be the best kind of homework.
"It's education outside of the classroom. You learn so much and what you can do for the community and what your community can do for you," Withorne said.
And what's the best part for Kniep? She gets to stay in her house, relax and not worry about any of the work.
"It's almost overwhelming and I really appreciate everything everyone's doing," Kniep said.
Volunteer Sioux Falls in on Saturday, September 29, but Carothers said they are pretty set for volunteers. However, they could always use help all year long. To find out more, you can call 211.
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