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Clean Up Day at Thames Elementary Ahead of Major Beautification Project

October 11, 2022

HATTIESBURG, MS (Oct. 10, 2022) – Outdoor spaces at Thames Elementary will soon enjoy more than $50,000 in improvements thanks to a community-led project with numerous partnering organizations, private companies, and citizens supporting it. Property enhancements include basketball court refurbishments, park benches along the walking trail, crosswalk art, and three original large-scale murals.

Hattiesburg Landmark Preservation, which is serving as the nonprofit funding conduit for the Thames Elementary project, was selected once again for a $10,000 AARP Livable Communities Community Challenge Grant focused on “creating vibrant public spaces.” This project is one of 260 selected from 3,200 applicants across the country.

“When we first shared this concept in our AARP grant application, many of us dreamed what this space could become and how it would benefit both the elementary school and the community. Today, it’s now an impressive, collaborative project with multiple organizations coming to the table,” Shawn Harris, HLP treasurer, said.

To prepare the green space and play areas for additional project work, Thames Elementary Clean Up Day will be held Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The event is one of several volunteer opportunities in Hattiesburg celebrating national Make a Difference Day, hosted annually on the fourth Saturday of October. Make a Difference Day recognizes the power of volunteerism and how individual contributions make a difference in communities.

Interested organizations and individuals are invited to volunteer for the Thames Clean Up Day on HAPA’s Facebook page or through the Google Form located at Work includes litter pickup, landscaping, gardening, and art projects. Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, weed eaters, trimmers, rakes, and gardening supplies, if possible.

Following the clean-up day, three large-scale public art projects, organized and funded by the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art, will begin. The park’s basketball court surface will be covered with a 93-foot x 60-foot mural designed by the Goebel family and artist River Prince of Prince Sign Company. Artist Steffi Lynn of Brooklyn, N.Y., has also been selected to paint two wall murals to serve as inspiration to Thames Elementary students and the community at large. Lynn’s submitted work from past calls for artists garnered interest in a Hattiesburg project. The public art portion of the project will be completed by mid-November.

“The Thames Elementary project will enrich imaginations and beautify a space designed for play, family time, and fitness,” said Kristen Brock of HAPA. “These new public art creations will also instill pride and a sense of place as we continue to grow into an international arts destination.”

Since the project’s conception several partners and funders joined the efforts, including Dr. Michael and Tiffany Goebel, the Krebs family, City of Hattiesburg Parks & Recreation, David and Lucy Tucker Roberts, Hancock Whitney Bank, Optimist Club of Hattiesburg, Hattiesburg Coca-Cola, and Venture Church.

“The investment of time, funding, and sweat equity from numerous citizens and partners will create a standout space we can all be excited to visit,” Harris said.

Details about an official public ribbon cutting will be shared on HAPA’s Facebook page at a later time. To learn more about HAPA, visit HAPA’s Facebook and Instagram pages or