By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Children at the Tupelo Police Athletic League are learning much more than jump shots this week.
Instead of the usual sports camps the organization is known for during the summer months, children are getting lessons in community service.
About 10 children from ages 7 to 18 participated in TPAL’s first Community Service camp. Children like T.R. Price, 13, and Zaire Wright, 11, have helped at the animal shelter, visited Sanctuary Hospice House and helped to clean areas of the city this week. Today they will be helping an elderly woman do some landscaping at her home.
Although both Wright and Price love to play sports, they also have loved the community service work they’ve been doing.
“It has been fun helping do different things in the community,” Price said. “I have learned a lot and had fun doing it.”
Wright said he enjoyed helping out at the animal shelter Tuesday.
Director of TPAL Sgt. Michael Russell said he felt adding a community service camp would be a great way to get the children involved in community issues. So far Russell said the children have shown a lot of pride in helping in the community.
“One of our main goals at the Tupelo Police Athletic League is to bridge the gap between our community and our children and what better way to do that than to let them participate in some community service,” said Russell. “This gives them a sense of ownership in the community that we hope will follow them throughout their lives.”
Police Chief Tony Carleton said the job Russell has done organizing the camps for the children and community has been an asset to the department and city.
“The PAL program is a benefit to everyone,” Carleton said. “It helps to build positive relationships between police and the children which in turns builds a stronger community.”