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Orange aprons adorn students at Abner Gibbs Elementary

By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

WESTFIELD - Abner Gibbs Elementary School received a helping hand from the Home Depot Company on Oct. 26 that was initiated by a letter.

"The school was in need of sprucing up and we needed different projects to be done. We needed cabinets to be renovated and a parent wrote a letter to Home Depot in Westfield asking for help," Margaret "Maggie" Adams, the principal of the 93-year old elementary school, said.

Adams said that the response from Home Depot was not a cabinet improvement but instead a day that was dedicated to care for the Abner Gibbs School.

Dozens of Home Depot employees from store locations that included Westfield, Wilbraham Chicopee and West Springfield assisted in providing two workshops to the students of the school and performed landscaping repairs on the school grounds.

"We were contacted by Abner Gibbs to work on some projects and we set up to do some painting inside and mulch," Danielle Kida, the Westfield Home Depot human resource manager, said.

Kida said that the projects are part of a program that Home Depot stores participate in called "Team Depot".

"Each quarter Home Depot gives us money to do projects in the community. The four Home Depot stores in this area Westfield, Chicopee, Wilbraham and West Springfield teamed up together for this one and we will do this again for the next one," Kida said.

"We are certainly grateful to Home Depot of Greater Westfield and they are certainly supporting people who are patronizing their stores," Adams said.

"It feels good," Suzanne Messenger said of the volunteer work. She is a 1952 student of the Abner Gibbs School and a current employee of the Home Depot in Wilbraham.

Messenger added that the outside of the building has not changed since her schooling at Abner Gibbs, excluding the additions to the parking lot.

In addition to mulching the school playscape, employees of the Home Depot took old and cracked bulletin boards and repaired and re-installed them. The employees installed area rugs for classrooms. They removed dead bushes around the school and reseeded these areas. They also put in benches outside the school library.

Employees of the store offered two workshops to students of the school in the Abner Gibbs' Gymnasium that instructed students in building birdhouses and pencil boxes.

"It is fun for children and a great experience for them," Adams in her fifth year as principal at the school said.

Students were given a signature orange Home Depot apron with their names written on them.

Kida said that if any members of the community are interested in Home Depot performing service projects for a worthy cause to contact her at the store or submit a letter. Kida can be reached in Westfield at 564-0680 or by mail at Home Depot, 514 East Main Street,Westfield, MA 01085.