NORTH AUGUSTA – Local businesses stepped from behind their desks and literally got their hands dirty to beautify North Augusta Elementary on Saturday morning before the start of the new school year.

Traditions in Real Estate, Dumpster Depot and other businesses and local residents all met up at 8 a.m. to do some raking and take piles of straw off for disposal. In addition, the group bought some new straw to fill out the flower beds and also received straw donations from various people.

Corley's Pressure Washing supported the effort by pressure washing all the school's pillars to give them a fresh look. Also, First Bank stepped up and donated money which allowed group members to purchase crepe myrtle flowers that it said can “grow along with the school.”

Kristi Atkins, co-owner of Traditions in Real Estate, said while driving through the area, she saw cleaning and landscaping needs at the school.

Atkins and her partners enlisted the help of about 30 total residents and planned the project out for about three weeks.

“We just saw a need out here and wanted the students to come back and feel at home,” Atkins said. “We wanted the kids to get excited, see everything fresh and new and start the school year off with a bang.”

Atkins added that the company plans to choose a different project each quarter to help improve the community. That project, she said, could be a school, park or any other facility that needs improvements.

North Augusta Elementary's new principal, Wendy Jacobs, was also on site on Saturday and said the school was thrilled and honored when it was contacted about the cleanup.

“Our schools are a primary focus in North Augusta, and we receive so much support from our business community,” she said. “The schools are very fortunate because of the businesses, volunteers and parents who give of their time.”

Derrek Asberry is the SRS beat reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the paper since June 2013. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.