KEARNS — Red T-shirts surrounded Kearns Junior High School Friday as students joined several McDonald's employees in an effort to give custodial aid.
The short-staffed custodial group was in need of help as the 400 windows outside the school had not been cleaned in years.
"We are able to do the insides every year, the outsides have been three to four (years)," said associate custodian Greg Kiethly. "Kearns is really windy and dusty so they get dirty really quick."
Kiethly has been cleaning the junior high for eight years. On Friday he had extra helping hands from 30 McDonald's volunteers and 15 junior high students who worked together to give Kiethly and the rest of the custodial staff a break.
The McDonald's employees tackled several tasks for the school as part of National People Week. About 400 McDonald's employees volunteered in local schools in a combined 24 projects statewide.
Kiethly is usually joined by three other full-time custodians and two part-time custodians, but usually that is not enough to handle the demands of the school.
"It is going to lower our stress level down," Kiethly said with a chuckle. "It is going to let us see what the real world looks like outside."
Kearns Junior High Principal Kandace Barber said the McDonald's aid was due in part to the school's dual title, which also acts as a community learning center for the parents of Latino students, who make up 48 percent of the school.
"We have very limited custodians with the budget cuts," she said. "They can't get the (cleaning) done in the summer and a lot of the times they have a lot of construction projects that they have to oversee.
"In our (efforts) to help the community, I think (McDonald's) choose to help us," Barber said.
"Many of the employees have children who go to school in the area, which make them feel a lot better about collaborating with the schools," said Eleas Guevara, the area supervisor who oversaw the 10 McDonald's restaurants that participated in the cleanup.
Many of the staff were happy to take a day off from the restaurant and work outside with children in the neighborhood.
The employees split their day, working at McDonald's in the morning and then at the school for the second half of their shifts. Ronald McDonald provided smiles as he joined the rest of the McDonald's staff in support of the charitable activities.
Franco Gonzales, 12, a seventh grader at the school, was joined by friends who made a day out of the service project. For them, helping their school was more important than spending the day at home.
"We like to help and that is why we are here," said 12-year old Yvette Lebaron.