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FFA cleanup part of 'Day of Service'

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- More than 100 volunteers, including Secretary of State Brian Kemp, are gathering at the FFA-FCCLA Center today to plant trees and clean up the grounds to commemorate the upcoming inauguration of Gov.-elect Nathan Deal.

The center is one of 31 sites around the state where volunteers are participating in "With a Servant's Heart -- A Day of Service," at Deal's request. Throughout the state, volunteers will partner with local charities, shelters, missions, food banks and environmental agencies and donate their time for a variety of causes, from building Habitat for Humanity houses to sprucing up parks.

"We decided giving back to the state would be a great way to begin this administration. The governor-elect has a great history of community service," said Harris Blackwood, spokesman for the inauguration.

Deal has ties to the FFA Center, which is one reason the site was selected. The future governor learned to swim at the center and his father Noah was an agriculture teacher who brought students to camp there. Though Deal was not expected to attend, Kemp will participate.

FFA-FCCLA Director Todd Teasley said volunteers will plant about 55 trees and do some clean up between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. today. FFA chapters from as far away as Savannah will take part.

Alcovy High School FFA advisor Robert Cobb said he expects about 15 of his students to lend a hand. Community service is an important part of the FFA experience, he said.

"We not only want to take from the community, we want to give back ... A lot of people think of FFA as just a bunch of kids from a rural area talking about cows and farming. It's not all about that. It's a more broad spectrum. We do everything from public speaking to livestock judging, from the most formal events to the informal," Cobb said.

Deal will be sworn in as Georgia's 82nd governor at 2 p.m. Monday at the state Capitol in Atlanta.