More than 70 children and teenagers wearing blue T-shirts will be everywhere downtown, helping with the Westobou Festival.
They will greet visitors at the gate. They will help people get through the food line. They will sell T-shirts made from recycled bottles.
They are members of the Westobou Junior Board, and between now and the festival’s opening event Oct. 3, they will be working hard to promote the arts festival.
“They promote it in different ways, because they’re all in different schools and different ages,” said Indee Few, the board’s adviser and organizer.
Fourteen schools are represented in the group, including John S. Davidson Fine Arts, Augusta Prep, Lakeside High School, North Augusta High School, Deer Chase Elementary School and Stallings Island Middle School.
In the weeks leading up to the Westobou Festival, the youth volunteers will promote the festival in their schools in a variety of ways.
Some will make announcements. Some will hang posters. Others will throw out T-shirts at a football game.
Still others will simply wear their own Westobou Festival T-shirt on dress-down day. There is always something to do to promote the festival, no matter how big or small, Few said.
“A sixth-grader may not be allowed to come work downtown, or their mom or dad may work, but they can do something. They can take a poster to school. They can announce it on the intercom at their school,” she said.
Volunteers meet once a month and although attendance is urged, it is not required.
The group formed about three years ago. At the time, there was a danger of schools losing arts programs, and this was a way to continue to expose youths to the arts and get them involved. The hope is that these volunteers will one day continue the festival, Few said.
Through their volunteerism, they will get to see and experience the variety of performances that they might not ordinarily get to see, which is the whole point of the festival anyway, Few said.
“Kids … that would never in a million years decide, ‘Maybe I’ll go to New York and see this act,’ they can actually see it and experience it here in Augusta. That was the main goal of Porter Fleming when he originally conceived the Westobou Festival,” Few said.
And, as “official greeters – hosts and hostesses for the city of Augusta” – they will meet people from all over, who will come to Augusta to attend the Westobou Festival.
Mollie Moses, a junior at Aquinas High School, said she learned about the board from Few, who is good friends with her mom.
Moses, Few’s daughter Emmakate, Ann Louisa Brewton and Beth Hardy have all been members since the beginning, and all are involved in other volunteering activities.
“I’m kind of like a volunteer junkie because I do a lot of stuff with other groups,” said Emmakate, who is a freshman at Davidson. She and Brewton have earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
All four girls are involved in volunteer efforts in the community, at their churches and in their schools.
They said they volunteer because it instills pride in them for their city and because they enjoy it. But the benefits of a credit on their résumé have not been lost on them, either.
“It looks really nice to have the Junior Board on there for all four years of high school,” said Anna Louisa, who will be a senior at Augusta Prep this year.
For more information about the Westobou Junior Board or to apply to join, visit http://www.westoboufestival.com/.