Even at age 9, Riely Spratt knows his way around a pun.

“It's a head start on an adventure,” Riely said from the backyard of Seaside's Head Start building. Riely, who’s from Gearhart, and other community members, gathered on Aug. 22 to help spruce up Head Start's play area.

The beautification efforts were made possible by the Oregon Head Start Association’s Charitable Check-Off grants campaign, according to Pat Eterno, the center's manager.

“Head Start is so grateful for the community support and the grants we received,” Eterno said. “It really does take a community.”

Community members of all ages responded to Head Start’s call: Riely and his brother, Hayden, joined their father, Mark Jovalusky, who has worked at Home Depot for over 24 years. Jovalusky volunteers with his Home Depot coworkers as part of the Team Depot Foundation.

“I think it’s great that we can help out the youth,” Jovalusky said. Jovalusky added that he values the opportunity to provide “a better place to grow and educate our youth.”

About a dozen community members weeded, planted plants and flowers, set up a crawl tunnel, painted a shed and erected newly purchased toys in the center’s yard.

Riely Spratt took it upon himself to find a spot for a new plastic alligator.

“I decided since I'm a kid, the alligator should be facing up the hill, like it’s going up the hill,” he said.

The Spratt brothers were not the only children lending a hand. Cayce McMinn, 12, of Gearhart, joined her mother, Ryanna McMinn, in adding coats of light blue paint to a shed in the corner of the yard.

“I felt it would be really nice to help out the little kids,” Cayce McMinn said, “and people can't do it by themselves.”

Ryanna McMinn appreciated the opportunity to volunteer side by side with Cayce, one of her four daughters.

“If I can help make a difference, then why not?” she said.

McKinn praised all the work that Eterno does.

“She deserves all the prayers and all the kudos,” McMinn said.

McMinn first became involved at Head Start after her family moved to Gearhart from Nevada.

“I walked into this place, and Pat was so appreciative of the fact that we were willing to volunteer here,” she said.

The Team Depot Foundation's backyard beautification efforts were spearheaded by Lee Dohaniuk, of Astoria, who is the Team Depot captain for the Warrenton store.

“We just all like to see the improvements in the community,” he said, taking a break from preparing the soil for a new batch of plants. “Head Start is especially great because it gives kids just that – a head start.”


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