LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – With the simple weave of plastic bags, students at Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids, or P.A.R.K., worked on a special community service project.

“We’re taking a lot of grocery sacks, that are basically from the grocery store, weaving them together and making one big mat for the homeless,” Dejah Rodger said.

Rodger is just one of the high school students at P.A.R.K. She and her classmates have been working on their yearly community service project. They turned plastic bags into mats for the homeless.

“It makes my heart feel happy for them because a lot of homeless people don’t have nothing at all, so you’ll see them with a cardboard box and it’s not doing nothing for them,” Rodger said.

Besides doing projects like this, P.A.R.K. also helps students after school with their class work.

“The tutors, they are very helping and they are understanding,” Rodger said. “They’ll break it down to you more than the teachers would, so if you don’t understand it in school, you come here and you’ll understand it a whole lot better.”

Right now about 60 percent of P.A.R.K.’s students attend in person while the rest attend virtually.

“One of the things that we’re most proud about in the midst of this COVID health pandemic is that we’ve been able to keep our doors open the entire time and continue offering our academic assistance and all of our support services for our students,” P.A.R.K. Program Director Tamra Calamese said.

P.A.R.K.’s commitment to the community isn’t going unnoticed. Rainwater, Holt & Sexton named the organization as this month’s Difference Maker. The award comes with a $1,000 donation.

“We would really like to thank Rainwater, Holt & Sexton for their commitment to the community and honoring us as one of many community members that are making a difference,” Calamese said.

P.A.R.K. plans to use the money for its end of the year event for the students. Each year, the organization holds an end of the year auction as an incentive. Students earn incentive points throughout the year when they complete academic work and other tasks. They spend the points like money to buy things at the auction, like TVs, cameras, and gift cards.

P.A.R.K. is currently recruiting 7th and 8th grade students within the Little Rock School District and at the Pulaski County Special School District’s Robinson Middle School and Mills Middle School.

Call P.A.R.K. at 501-562-5223 for more information.