HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. -- Meaningful summer jobs for young people can be hard to come by in small towns.
Often youngsters who don't find work spend their summers non-productively or even end up getting into trouble.
That's why city leaders in Holly Springs, Miss., decided to do something positive this summer.
They've started a "Summer Youth Job Program, that gives 45 boys and girls a chance to earn a paycheck and get some valuable job experience.
Thursday, Holly Springs City Clerk Belinda McDonald assigned jobs to three teenagers who'll be working part-time at City Hall for the summer.
"We have a lot of files we need to get caught up. Been waiting for our summer youth workers, so we' re excited about you all being here," said Belinda McDonald.
Eighteen-year-old Marcades Thompson, one of the part-timers, got right to work answering the phone.
"Good morning, City Clerk's office. How may I help you?" said Thompson.
The three new hires at City Hall are among 45 boys and girls, ranging in age from 16 to 21 years old, now earning a paycheck in the city's new "Summer Youth Job Program."
Holly Springs Mayor Kelvin Buck said the application started two months ago and students applied by putting in an application, a resume, and an essay about themselves.
"And after they did that, we went through those applications and chose some young people to take jobs within the city and within the private sector," said Buck.
The mayor said response to the program was overwhelming, but unfortunately there were only 45 jobs available.
"They're working at City Hall, they're working with our Park and Recreation Department. Some are working in our Utility Department's 'back-office'operations. Some of them are working with our Street Department," said Buck.
Buck said the part-time jobs will take up the slack created when full-time city workers go on vacation.
While some of the jobs involve working with city crews in a safe environment, most of the part-time created by the "Summer Youth Job Program" is clerical.
City leaders unanimously supported the program, which pays young workers a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour for a 20-hour work week.
Sixteen-year-old Falandria Marion landed one of the jobs and couldn't be happier.
"I was really overjoyed. I just couldn't stop thinking about it. And I was like, I was really happy, because I'm going to be independent and make my own money for the first time," said Marion.
While the program gives young workers a chance to experience different types of jobs, it's about a lot more than a paycheck.
It's also about providing a positive environment, something 18-year-old Dhamani Qualls said is priceless.
"I was excited because I didn't want to start, like, go into the workforce like most teenagers, in fast food. I wanted to start somewhere like this because I felt it had more to offer me," said Qualls.
The "Summer Youth Job Program" will last only until students start back to school, but plans are to start the job program up again next summer.