About 350 students from Prospect High School in Mount Prospect volunteered to spend several hours Saturday helping out on projects at 15 different sites in the area.
Ryan Roggeman, 17, a senior who hopes to study engineering at a Big 10 school, said he volunteers one or twice a month as a member of the Prospect Knights Service Club and the school's baseball team.
"It's a great community and I just want to be a part of it," he said as he ignored the rain and helped with a River Trails Park District youth obstacle course 2K run that drew about 200 participants.
Assistant Principal Frank Mirandola, who was in charge of the day, said Ryan's comment fits with the Prospect Gives Back program's goals of tying the high school more closely to the community and making sure students understand the importance of donating time, not just money.
He said the school had no difficulty signing students up for the event, the kickoff to homecoming week, when it spread the word of the day through its various clubs and sports teams. Other students had tasks such as cleaning wheelchairs at Northwest Community Hospital, running youth basketball camps and assisting at the food pantry run by Northwest Compass.
Such events help counter the negative image some have of teens, Mirandola said.
"This is what high school kids do," he said. "They're genuine, they're caring and they're passionate; they want to make a difference."