Students keep fence graffiti free

McKenzie Lanier paints the fence.

A group of Saint Mary School students kicked off their summer
vacation Monday by painting a fence in the 90-degree sun.
By Lori Stuenkel

Gilroy – A group of Saint Mary School students kicked off their summer vacation Monday by painting a fence in the 90-degree sun.

Two seventh- and two fifth-graders sweated away, volunteering their time and labor to coat an East Gilroy fence that in the past has been a target for vandals.

“It didn’t look so great,” said Andrew Lanier of the fence on Murray Avenue south of IOOF Avenue.

The fence was graffiti-free, but sported several different shades of brown and red where graffiti had been covered up. The landlord at Gilroy Apartments, across the street, has been diligent about covering up vandalism and trimming weeds along the fence, but it needed more of a make-over, said Angela Locke-Paddon, a community service officer with the Gilroy Police Department in charge of graffiti abatement.

Locke-Paddon called Lanier, 11, because he’s already volunteered to paint two fences, including one across the street from his school yard. Lanier, his mother, Jennifer, younger sister McKenzie, 10, and friends Michael and Kathryn McGill, 12 and 10, set out Monday to paint at least half of the fence that stretches down the block.

“It’s fun to just hang out with your friends, and paint fences,” Michael McGill said.

“It’s good to paint the whole fence to make the neighborhood look nicer, too,” Andrew Lanier said.

After he successfully covered the fence near Saint Mary, Lanier had no problem finding other students to volunteer for more jobs.

“They’re all excited,” Jennifer Lanier said. “They think it’s really fun to paint the fence.”

The students also collect service hours for which they will receive recognition at the end of the school year.

As part of GPD’s Wipe-Out Watch – volunteers who cover graffiti in various parts of the city – the students receive donated paint and florescent vests to wear, and provide their own brushes and rollers. The 10 gallons they were using Monday was donated by Orchard Supply Hardware, Lowe’s, or Home Depot. Extras of miscellaneous paint samples are combined to create a chocolate brown color that can easily cover graffiti or cover-ups, and makes it more difficult to vandalize again, Locke-Paddon said.

“You just get a good feeling because you’re helping out. And it gets you out of the house,” Andrew Lanier said. “Hopefully, we can get some more (fences) over the summer.”

To report graffiti, call the 24-hour Graffiti Hotline at 846-0395.

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