EVART — Instead of picking her daughter up from school and heading home, from 2:30 to 3 p.m. every Thursday, Kelly Elder puts on a reflective vest and holds a stop sign.

Elder, an Evart resident, is one of five volunteers who regularly serve as crossing guards at the school in a program that began late last year. More volunteers are needed for the program.

“On Thursdays, my friend picks up my daughter and waits until I’m done,” Elder said. “There’s not a ton of kids (who cross), but it’s enough that they shouldn’t be walking across by themselves.”

The idea for the program stemmed from the recently-formed Evart Neighborhood Watch program. Evart community members come together for the program monthly to brainstorm and implement ways to make the community safer.

“It was an area of concern for our community,” said Evart police department officer Michelle Gebben, who organizes the program. “Due to the accident involving Kate (VanMourik last summer), everybody has been a little bit more concerned about our students crossing traffic.”

One day each week, Elder or her fellow crossing guards — a collection of parents and community members including Randall Babcock, John and Sarah Nailor and Karen Copeman — bundle up and take to the streets to help keep children safe while crossing the street after school.

“Everyone thought it was a good idea at the meeting,” Elder said. “I thought, ‘I pick up my daughter from school every day, I could do it.’”

In order to be crossing guards, volunteers go through a one-and-a-half-hour crossing guard training created by the Emergency Management Department’s CERT Team. They also must pass a safety test.

“They’re meeting a great need for our students,” said Evart Elementary principal Carol Phelps. “I’m happy they’re here.”

The program is seeking additional volunteers to establish an additional daily crossing guard, to keep students safe who cross U.S. 10 by the Sunoco gas station.

Though the crossing guard volunteers have to brave the cold winter weather, Elder said the cold is worth it to keep the students safe.

“(Weather) is not really something you can complain about. It’s a pretty easy job. The more people that get involved, the better,” Elder said.

Evart Neighborhood Watch plans to continue the community outreach into the future.

“The police department used to do it and we became too obligated with calls and complaints to be there everyday consistently,” Gebben said. “With community members stepping up, we’re trying to maintain a consistent program and get the kids used to using a crossing guard to cross the street.”

Individuals interested in being part of the program can call Gebben at the Evart Police Department at (231) 734-5911, extension 16.