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Students help beautify Victoria

By Sonny Long
June 9, 2010 at 1:09 a.m.

Cece Hayes, 16, and Ayanna Ellis, 12, both of Victoria, plant an esperanza at the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent.

YOUTH LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE

The sixth annual Youth Leadership Conference, a program of Sure B.E.T. (Business and Education Together), instills sound moral character and leadership skills in our future leaders, says Rhonda Fotiades, the organization's executive director.

This year more than 75 students, including 19 team leaders, from eight school districts are taking part in the conference. Incoming seventh-graders make up the bulk of the participants. The four-day conference includes programs on goals and dreams, character that counts, servant leadership and success that matters.

For more information go to www.surebetvictoria.com or call 361-485-6642.

Ayanna Ellis jumped, both feet landing on the shovel head trying to pierce the sun-baked dirt.

The hole she was digging would soon hold an esperanza, one of about 30 planted on Wednesday at the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent.

Ayanna, 12, of Victoria, was taking part in the beautification project as part of the 6th annual Youth Leadership Conference, a program of Sure B.E.T. (Business and Education Together) held at The Victoria College.

"I feel like I'm doing a lot of good for our town," Ayanna said.

Her planting partner, 16-year-old Cece Hayes, a team leader from Victoria, agreed.

"It makes me feel good to give back to the community," Cece said.

Both girls also helped box canned goods and other food inside the food bank prior to planting flowers, and that, too, was rewarding.

"That really made me feel good," Ayanna said. "Knowing that I was helping people who don't have enough to eat."

Food Bank executive director Dennis Brown watched with a smile as more of the yellow flowers encircled the building.

"It not only is rewarding for them to see a finished product, the program gives us maybe our first chance at exposure to what we do here to our future leaders," Brown said.

"Doing something hands on tends to leave a lasting impression," he said.

The conference itself is leaving a lasting impression on the 78 students from eight school districts in attendance.

The food bank is the first local organization to take part in the Grow Victoria Gold program co-sponsored by Keep Victoria Beautiful and Devereux Gardens, said Joni Brown, executive director of Keep Victoria Beautiful. One dollar from each plant purchased goes to Keep Victoria Beautiful.

"Beautification creates community pride and, in this case, teaches personal responsibility for community appearance," she said.

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