Since September 1994, Mesa High School students have loaded up their vehicles with yard and painting equipment and headed out into the neighborhoods of their city in order to assist the elderly and disabled who are no longer able to take care of their yards and homes. Students Helping Out! (S.H.OUT!) is a school club that reaches beyond the school walls into the streets, alleys and backyards of those who need a helping hand. Teenagers cut weeds, mow grass, trim trees, paint sheds, haul away debris and tidy up yards and streets throughout the city, nearly every week.
Two to four times per month between five and twelve students change their clothes after school and head out for three or more hours of service to their community. The groups meets the needs of many senior and disabled citizens by doing for those them what they can neither do for themselves nor afford to pay others to do. Referrals to S.H.OUT! come from newspaper notices, the City of Mesa, the Mesa Senior center and other local charitable organizations. Once in a while, the help provided is a one-shot deal. More often, S.H.OUT! makes a friend for life and continues to maintain the premises of its elderly friend.
S.H.OUT! began the fall of 1994, after the new school club received two mini-grants to purchase the lawnmowers, weed eaters, rakes, shovels, painting equipment, work gloves and garbage bags that are needed to perform these services. Further funding has helped the group maintain and expand its inventory. During the last three and a half years, many school and church youth groups, Eagle Scouts, and summer programs have borrowed the equipment. In this way, many other volunteers have been able to perform neighborhood clean-ups and yard work for the elderly as well as create school and community gardens.
Each school year, a new core of 20 Mesa High students meet weekly to respond to phone requests for help, maintain the equipment, plan work days and perform physical labor. Three to eight yards are groomed every month: four or more neighborhoods are cleaned a year. Additionally, hundreds of other students serve their community when they borrow S.H.OUT! equipment.