Boys helping in the 'hood'

Otago Boys' High School 16-year-old boarders Fin Sinnott, (right) and Josh Huddleston, undertake voluntary work on a property near the school's Dunedin hostel. Photo by Peter McIntoshEverybody loves a good neighbour.

So meet the 135 boarders at the Otago Boys' High School hostel, School House, who are volunteering their services to their Roslyn neighbours.

Trees have been cut, branches trimmed, and windows cleaned as part of a new neighbourhood assistance scheme launched this week.

School House manager Paul Vlietstra said the programme was designed to make up for the ''odd ball going over a fence''.

''We are never going to stop that - balls are alway going to go over the fences - but the response we are getting is amazing.

''We would rather focus on the positive, rather than the negative, so we thought we would do this because we are always looking for things to keep them busy.''

A notice to promote the free scheme had been hand-delivered to 150 homes near the Melrose St hostel. Four homebaked biscuits were included with each notice.

The response to the scheme had been tremendous and the boys had been left ''buzzing'' by their involvement, he said.

Mr Vlietstra said many of the boys, who were aged between 13 and 18, came from farms and were practical, so could help clear sections, paint, mow lawns, garden or do cleaning.

Some of the boys had completed a chainsaw safety course through the school, and had used an electric chainsaw for several recent projects.

As hostel manager, he received the occasional negative phone call, ''but everyone has been ringing up saying thank you very much''.

Volunteer Fin Sinnott said he enjoyed cleaning the windows of an elderly couple, and ''it was good for the hostel to get out in the community''.

Grateful Highgate resident Melvell Kirk praised the scheme, saying, ''It is just great.''

''It is no cost to us, and the windows were the one thing we really wanted done ... and they said they would come again.''

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