West, Powe Lend a Hand in Roxbury During Southwest ASSISTS Clean Up Day

Southwest Airlines ASSISTS Clean Up Day

Delonte West and Leon Powe helped students at the Lewis Middle School in Roxbury restore a garden on Thursday. Peter Stringer/Boston Celtics

ROXBURY - Delonte West may be afraid of worms, but he's not afraid to get his hands dirty and make an assist in the community.

West and Leon Powe surprised a group of eighth grade students at the Lewis Middle School in Roxbury on Thursday afternoon, lending a hand and a few shovels as well during the school's replanting of a special garden in front of the building. The garden has special meaning to the students, as it is dedicated to Ms. Bilal, a well-respected and loved art teacher who recently lost her battle with cancer.

The Lewis Middle School was one of 14 Boston-area schools that participated in beautification projects sponsored by the Boston Celtics and Southwest Airlines as part of Southwest Airlines ASSISTS Clean Up Day. Southwest and the Celtics paid for gardening equipment and supplies at each of the 14 schools, allowing students to enhance their environment and get a unique opportunity to relate to their heroes on a personal level.

"It's good when you can get outside the basketball court and arena setting where they kind of idolize you and think you're bigger than life," West said. "Now you can get a little laid back out in the sun and interact with the students."

When they weren't busy planting trees or digging in the dirt, Powe and West certainly enjoyed their time with the students. While at first the students were asking the Celtics for autographs on the back of their t-shirts, the guys turned the tables on the students and had them sign their shirts as well. They were also telling Powe that they could dunk on him and chased West around the garden with a worm they'd dug up.

One student asked West, joking, "How come you're not afraid of Shaq but you're afraid of a worm?"

West took the ribbing in stride, and was happy he got the chance to be a positive influence for inner-city students as part of the event.

"They're at a vulnerable age, at the stage where you can easily be lead in the wrong direction, or pulled along in the right direction. For these students, with this program between Southwest and the Boston Celtics, that's the movement we're trying to get here in Boston, before our youth go wrong. That's what we're trying to do today."

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