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Durham Program Helps Kids Pick Up Litter And Hopes

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DURHAM — A program in Durham is designed to keep inner city kids in school and busy during the summer. Some might say they have a dirty job, but the kids say they really do enjoy it.

Fifteen-year-old Marcus Duff is one of 40 high schoolers who report for litter patrol, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day.

"This is a litter-getter," Duff said, using the implement to pick up a piece of litter. "It's used so you don't have to touch trash. You just get it and put it in the bag. This is really like my first summer job," he said.

"And they're making $9 an hour. That's pretty decent...for school kids anyway," said an adult employee.

But they say it is not all about money.

"Just being out here with your friends, you know, it's pretty cool out here. It builds character. Yeah it builds character and respect for each other," said one youth.

"It gives you something to do, and it's positive. It gives you a different look on life than when people throw things on the ground. It makes you really care," said Karen Haskins.

Mitch Archer runs the program.

"For the first two weeks, the crews, city wide, were responsible for 3.58 tons of trash and litter off the street," he said.

"Primarily, we use it as an incentive to try to keep the kids motivated. (We) want (them) to stay in school or keep them from even thinking about joining gangs, because they have something positive to focus on," said Archer.

The jobs are made possible by the Durham Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the City Council. Next year, the program will expand from 40 to 50 kids.


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