Elaine Crippen says the world is a better place because of young people.

And many of those young people play baseball at Grain Valley High School.

Crippen, a longtime Grain Valley resident who needed a little help sprucing up her yard, spent last Saturday watching members of the Eagles baseball team rake and care for her yard as part of the team’s annual community service day.

“I was watching those young men and had a feeling of overwhelming joy,” Crippen said. “For a group of young men to come to my house, and work as hard as they did, well, it’s just overwhelming. I could never thank them enough for what they did.”

He smile was enough payment, said sophomore Parker Stone.

“This is the second year I’ve been a part of the community service day, and I know what it’s all about this year,” Stone said. “Last year, I didn’t really know what it was about. I didn’t know what type of impact we made in the community.”

“But this year, it’s amazing. All I see are smiles – Mrs. Crippen was smiling so big, it was so cool. And all the guys were smiling. We were raking and picking up stuff in her yard and we were all smiling and having the best time.”

A large sweet gum tree in Crippen’s front yard posed an annual chore for the homeowner.

“Those little gummy balls would fall from the tree and just cover my yard, and when you go out to rake them up, they go right between (the tines) and just stay in the yard. I would get so frustrated raking – and then these wonderful young men come to my home and rake them all up.”

“They had all kinds of special tools to rake them up, and I am so thankful. I also had some limbs that needed to be picked up from that recent snow storm, and I looked out and they were all gone, too.”

“Like I said, I was just overwhelmed with joy.”

And that’s what coach Brian Driskell wants to hear.

This is the sixth year Driskell has been involved with the service day.

“I thought it was the greatest idea when I came over to Grain Valley, and I am so happy the kids have gotten involved and enjoyed it as much as they have.”

Junior Josh Kilpartick said the day is something he and his teammates look forward to every year.

“We’re helping people, which is great, but we’re also bonding as a team, having fun and getting to know each other away from the field,” Kilpatrick said. “We have varsity and junior varsity guys working together and we really do get to know all the guys we’re working with.”

“But most importantly, we’re helping the people in the community who support us. There is nothing cooler than playing a game, and having someone come up to you after it’s over and have them tell you that you worked at their home. That’s just the best feeling.”