By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
This weekend will mark the first time Havre participates in the National Youth Service Day. Actually spanning Friday through Sunday, the event is organized by volunteers for AmeriCorps and offers young people a chance to serve their communities.
Planned for this weekend are a basketball tournament, a service event to help Havre's homeless and a community celebration and barbecue.
The event is intended to celebrate "the empowerment of local youth," said Christi Bradbury, AmeriCorps' youth media representative in Havre.
Bradbury, a senior at Havre High School, and a handful of other high school and middle school students have been responsible for organizing the event.
Sara Suek, Ryan Gilbreath, Casey Peterson, Ryan Schuster, Katie Kaercher and Carly LaBrie are among those involved, Bradbury said.
Supervising and helping to coordinate with AmeriCorps at the national level is team leader Ashley Possin.
Possin said AmeriCorps has three main goals for National Youth Service Day: mobilize youth to identify and address the needs of their communities through service; recruit the next generation of volunteers; and educate the public about the year-round contributions of young people as community leaders.
AmeriCorps is a national service program that strives to meet critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. AmeriCorps volunteers serve through more than 2,000 nonprofits, public agencies, and faith-based organizations.
The event kicks off Friday night with a three-on-three basketball tournament in the Havre High School gymnasium. Starting at 6:30 p.m., the tourney features free pizza and door prizes for participants.
The format for the tourney will be half-court, three-on-three play, with five-person teams rotating two alternates into the action. When only two teams are left standing, they will square off for a five-person, full-court game that promises stiff competition, Bradbury said.
The Havre police and fire departments are working to organize teams, and Bradbury said she expects college, high school and middle school students to make a bid for bragging rights.
People of any age are invited to register a five-person team at the high school office. Teams must provide their own warm-up balls.
The Eagles Club donated the money for the pizza, and local businesses contributed items as door prizes, Bradbury said. Items that will be given away during the night include tanning passes, movie tickets, gift certificates and T-shirts.
On Saturday, volunteers will serve the community of Havre by distributing kits to the homeless. Starting at 10 a.m. at the Feed My Sheep soup kitchen, young people will give grocery bags of food, soap and shampoo to the needy.
The bags, donated by Gary & Leo's IGA and Albertsons in Havre, have been decorated by youths at the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line. Local hotels donated many of the items for the bags, Bradbury said.
Volunteers will then help prepare and serve a hot meal at the soup kitchen Saturday afternoon.
National Youth service Day will conclude on Sunday with a community celebration, again to be held at Havre High School. The celebration begins at 4 p.m. with a ceremony in the high school auditorium during which Possin will present achievement awards to young people. Mayor Bob Rice has been invited speak at the event, though Bradbury said he has not yet committed.
Bradbury said she is enthusiastic about this weekend.
"It's turning out really well," she said. "It's going to be great and we have a ton of ideas for next year."
Local people have been very supportive of AmeriCorps' efforts to bring National Youth Service Day to Havre, Possin said.
"The entire community has been involved in some way or another," she said. "... Either by donating items, or food, or space, or time and participation, or preparation."
People interesting in participating in National Youth Service Day should contact Possin at 265-3700, ext. 3186, or Bradbury at the high school at 265-6731.