JOPLIN, Mo. —
Students at Cecil Floyd Elementary School will notice next week that their hallways are a little brighter, thanks to some spring break volunteers and a local art-therapy organization.
“When they left (for spring break), it was blank walls, and when they come back, it’s an explosion of color,” said Meg Bourne Hulsey, founder and executive director of Art Feeds.
Art Feeds and volunteers working through Rebuild Joplin teamed up this week to paint a mural along the upper part of the main hallways in the elementary school. Volunteers, including a group of 55 from Marquette High School in Chesterfield, Mo., and a group from Fort Smith, Ark., added the finishing touches Wednesday.
The mural, totaling about 4,500 square feet, is a collection of individual drawings by Cecil Floyd students, representing things that are important to them, Bourne Hulsey said. Their sketches — of butterflies, trees, monkeys, fish and one alligator with a Joplin Eagles football in its mouth — were stenciled onto the walls last week.
Bourne Hulsey said the mural cost about $2,000; funds were raised by Cecil Floyd alumni and parents and Art Feeds supporters. She said fundraising is under way for another mural to cover the remaining hallways in the school.
Many of the volunteers working on Wednesday were students who gave up their own spring break to work in Joplin.
Ted Castillo, a senior at Marquette High School, said he and his classmates chose to participate in their school’s volunteer trip here, where they have worked on the mural during their mornings and split into groups in the afternoons to help rebuild or repair houses.
“I’m an artist,” he said, taking a break Wednesday from the frog and giraffe pictures he had painted. “I love painting, I love drawing, so this is right up my alley.”
Castillo, like many of his classmates, said he first visited Joplin last year on his school’s first spring break trip to this area.
“I had a lot of fun, and I wanted to do it again,” he said. “We’ve just been having a blast, hanging out and helping people.”
Kelly Dunlap, also a senior at Marquette, said volunteering in Joplin was an opportunity she didn’t want to pass up. After working on the mural in the mornings, she has spent her afternoons helping renovate the home of a tornado survivor.
For Dunlap, who also first volunteered in Joplin last spring, the decision to return this year was an easy one to make.
“I really like being productive with my spring break with my friends,” she said. “It’s helping the community; it’s close to home. It’s something I enjoy doing.”
Marquette senior Miguel Rodriguez said he particularly enjoyed his afternoons, hanging drywall and mudding at a tornado-impacted house.
“I love the construction; construction’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We helped this family rebuild their kitchen, and having the feeling of helping them is good.”
Cecil Floyd students will be added to Art Feeds’ schools roster following their return next week from spring break, bringing the total number of students in Joplin schools served weekly by the art-therapy organization to 2,600.