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Portland Police Officer Gives to Giving Students

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Portland Police Officer Gives to Giving Students
Posted on 11/23/2015
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Two Lyman Moore Middle School students helped others by successfully completing a community service project to fix up a playground in a housing project so it’s a clean and safe place for children to play. Now a Portland police officer is rewarding the students by giving them each a beautiful, handcrafted desk for their homes.

Portland Housing Authority staff will present the gifts to eighth-graders Atak Natali and Divine Macibiri on Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 3 p.m. at the Front Street housing complex on West Presumpscot Street. The students won’t know who the donor is because the person has asked to remain anonymous, according to the Housing Authority. But the authority said the donor is a police officer so moved by what Divine and Atak did that he put other projects on hold to make their desks.

The students and many of their classmates live at the Housing Authority-owned complex, which has 50 family apartments. But Divine and Atak said the complex’s playground was dirty and unsafe and made it their mission last year to fix it. At a Fix-Up day this past June, the students and other volunteers spread new wood chips, scraped and painted the play structures and installed new swings at the playground. New triple-toss poles – paid for in part by the Maine Red Claws basketball team, after Divine and Atak asked team President Dajuan Eubanks to help – are scheduled to be installed next spring, according to Lyman Moore social studies teacher David Hilton.

The two students came up with a vision to improve the playground while participating in Make It Happen!, a program of the Portland Public Schools’ Multilingual and Multicultural Center. The students’ efforts included winning a $500 grant for the playground from Painting for a Purpose, a local organization that funds youth-led initiatives that make a difference in the community. The students also met with Housing Authority staff to discuss their ideas. The Housing Authority donated wood chips, new swings, paint and equipment and hours of labor.

Divine and Atak were honored by the Portland Board of Public Education in February for their community service efforts.

PHOTO CAPTIONS: (Top) Lyman Moore Middle School student Alfred Charles helps out repainting a play structure at the Front Street playground last June.
(Below) Atak Natali and Divine Macibiri were honored by the school board last February for their work to fix up the playground.

Atak, Divine at School Board