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      Teachers give up weekend to give back to community

      With recent violence in schools and in our community, one group of teachers sacrificed their weekend to reach out.

      "We're trying to be in front of the effort," Homewood Elementary School teacher Nancy Goodson said, "and support the effort Conway is trying to do service to the community and service to those in need who really need that extra touch from educators and people who care."

      Saturday, more than a dozen teachers and educators road on a school bus from the elementary school to neighborhoods nearby to help underprivileged kids.

      For one teacher, the effort hit very close to home.

      "Come and meet us guys," teacher Tolson Johnson said over the portable microphone he carried. "We have some information for the parents and for the kids."

      He grew up in Conway, and now at 33-years-old he said his community has seen better days.

      "We have to get something going. Because at this rate, it's only going down," Johnson said. "I've lost a lot of friends."

      Teachers greeted parents and passed out free books.

      "We hear stories that children have to be the mom and dad or the child has not eaten that night or a couple of days and that's why we're going out into the community and see our parents to let them know we're here for you," second grade teacher Julia Long said. "We're here with you to ensure that your child has everything they need to be successful."

      Parents welcomed the group's effort.

      "It's a beautiful thing," parent of three Michael Morris said. "It's positive and that's why I'm here."

      "They need a lot of help out here to tell you the truth," parent Jamell Wright said. "Parents need to get involved more."

      That more involvement is why those like Johnson decide to come back and make a difference to the community that made him.

      "Push the positive notion of it. Make sure that you go to school. Make sure that you eat a well balanced diet. Making ure that you know right from wrong," Johnson said. "Those issues are what help a person, a kid, grow up to be a successful young man or young lady."