PARKERSBURG, West Virginia — The students of Parkersburg’s Emerson Elementary will benefit for years to come from the Oct. 8 efforts of CSX and community volunteers. The Service Day was the first of five to be held this fall at schools within communities served by the railroad.
“I wanted to make a positive impact," said Parkersburg-based Trainmaster Shawn Miskimens. "Some members of the community might only associate CSX with the trains that pass them at crossings. Volunteering will help change their perception of what the company is about and show that our people are great and CSX is a good partner to the community."
Volunteers worked in teams on a number of fronts. Children, some of whom were the sons and daughters of CSX employees, helped decorate the cafeteria, gym, and exterior walls of their school. A mural that encourages recycling now graces a wall facing a play area.
Other efforts focused on outdoor improvements. The students will be kept safe thanks to the addition of mulch under and around their new playground equipment. In addition, the outdoor classroom was built to further their enjoyment of nature. Planters installed by volunteers will one day be filled with flowers.
Play was also a big part of the enhancements. The basketball court’s lines received a fresh coat of paint and a multi-colored game area was added – but the featured addition may be a new kickball field!
Emerson students, teachers and administrators were grateful for the hard work by CSX, and its service partners, City Year and Action for Healthy Kids.
“The CSX volunteers have been amazing,” said Principal Tabatha Efaw.
A native of nearby St. Mary’s, West Virginia, some of Efaw’s earliest memories are of trains passing through her town.
“The railroad is a part of West Virginia,” she said.
Emerson was selected to host Saturday’s Service event because of the school’s successful implementation of a grant from CSX and Action for Healthy Kids to encourage physical activity, random acts of kindness, and healthy lifestyles.
Efaw, whose son Liam, 9, is a student at Emerson, estimates that about half the volunteers were CSX employees and their friends and family members. Carole King-Reeves, a speech therapist at the school, believes the railroad’s involvement boosted productivity.
“We couldn’t have gotten as much done without CSX,” she said. “It shows the children that when you work as a team, it’s awesome.”