The Saturday before Thanksgiving volunteers spent their day at Covington Integrated Arts Academy.

Some held rollers, some held brushes, but everyone spent the day painting.

“We probably used 25 to 30 gallons,” said Tim Haynes, who supervises the garden department and the Team Depot project. “We came up here Monday, Tuesday, Thursday night last week and Saturday was our long day.”

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They spent 13 more hours at the school the following week, while students and teachers were on break, working to finish the job.

“We worked all day, then spent our nights and the weekends here,” said Haynes.

Other volunteers from Home Depot – who complete projects outside of their work hours – worked with volunteers from Restoration Church, Gateway Baptist Church’s Atoka and Covington campuses, Haynes and Son and others to transform CIAA’s most troubled areas.

A 10-year-old boy, said Haynes, was probably one of the hardest-working painters who helped.

“He didn’t complain. He stopped for a donut, he stopped for pizza, and then he painted until we left at 4 o’clock. That’s hard to do when you’re 10 years old.”

The school’s needs, and the needs of other local schools, were solicited by new Home Depot manager Candace Fleming.

She and Haynes encouraged the schools to think big picture.

At CIAA, that involved repainting the stalls and walls in most every bathroom as well as updating the flooring, drains and cabinetry in the concession stand and reworking its floor plan for better efficiency.

“This school’s pretty old,” said Haynes, who once walked its halls as a student when it was Covington Elementary, “and a lot of it hadn’t been touched.”

With the highest poverty rate in the county, the school doesn’t have the funding others do to make improvements.

It also changed mascots and school colors – going from the blue and yellow Knights to purple and gold Chargers – over the summer, so an update from Home Depot helped with the rebranding which was already in progress.

Haynes said it’s a great way for them to be able to give back.

“Teachers have a hard job, I’m not sure I could do it,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to be able to do something for them.”