In preparation for the upcoming holiday season-particularly the Oxford's Old Country Christmas celebration-members of the Oxford Area High School's (OAHS) Helping Hands spent Saturday decorating and cleaning downtown Oxford.Helping Hands is the service organization run out of the high school-done on a volunteer basis.

The frigid temperatures and occasional snow flurries made the task a little more difficult, but these determined volunteers weren't slowed down at all. Students spent the day planting greens and picking up trash from the streets and sidewalks. They also constructed luminaries, which are bags with candles inside, that will line the street along Penn Avenue to create a peaceful ambiance for the carriage ride.

"Penn Avenue is a residential street, so we're going to line it with luminaries for the carriage rides this year," said Christine Grove, of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. (OMI).

Grove said she was thrilled with the hard work that the Helping Hands volunteers did for the community, and had initially expected only a few students to help out.

"I asked the Helping Hands organization for help with various events between now and the end of the year, and expected to get a few volunteers for each, but I was so happy when a whole bunch of students came out to help," said Grove-mentioning that high school senior Sarah Walsh, president of the organization, has been instrumental in helping to facilitate the efforts of the volunteers.

Almost a dozen high school students lent their time and energy to the preparation efforts this past Saturday and made what Grove said used to be a two-day job take only an afternoon.

"Last year, my daughters and I spent days cleaning up, and this year, thanks to the volunteers of Helping Hands, we got everything done on Saturday," said Grove.

"They are really good kids doing a good job," said Grove.

This isn't the first event that volunteers have come out and pitched in. Grove says that a bunch of kids came out for the borough's recent 5K Run and Walk to help set up before and clean up after the race.

"Not only did a bunch of kids come out for the 5K Run, two boys even came two hours early to help me set everything up. Then, they ran in the race-both finishing in the top five-and then they stayed two hours after to help clean up," said Grove.

Helping Hands can be seen all over town doing good things for others. In fact, they will be out again this Friday, Dec. 5, prior to the start of the Old Country Christmas event to straighten up the streets-picking up trash-and fixing any planters and decorations that may have been disturbed over the week.

OMI and the downtown businesses thank these special students who have given back to their community in a big way.

A complete list of OMI's upcoming events is available at www.oxfordmainstreet.org.

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