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20131012 MCISD Football-service 2439GRANJENO—On and off the field, the Mission Veterans Memorial High School football team’s philosophy is “One heartbeat.”

Injured or in full health, 65 players flooded the Granjeno Cemetery on Saturday morning to clean it up in act of unity and community service. The cemetery made the news weeks before because it had become overgrown through age and neglect. A crew came in the week before the team and cut most of the grass, but there still were weeds and a lot of debris for the boys to remove. The historic site dates back to 1872 and is home to the bodies of several men who served in the Civil War.

Jerry Garcia, defensive lineman, hurt his shoulder in a game the week before, but was still able to hold open bags and lend a hand when needed, even if his teammates gave him a hard time about his lack of flexibility.

Manuel Olivarez Jr., a lifelong Granjeno resident, saw the boys at work and made a point to come and personally thank them.

“This is a great thing,” Olivarez said. “This is something they can tell their grandkids, ‘We used to go over to Granjeno Cemetery to clean it up.’”

Yolanda Hidrogo, whose son Eric plays on the team, got the idea for the community service project after seeing a news story about the cemetery. She said the project is a great way for the boys to give back to the community.

Hidrogo emphasized the history of Granjeno

“We all came from the same place,” she said. “This is where Mission started. They need to understand it’s not just about receiving; it’s also about giving.”

Adrian Flores, middle linebacker, said many of the boys have passed by the cemetery or have family buried there, but they didn’t realize how much work it needed until they came in and saw the back of the property.

It’s not the only service project that unites the team. Last year, players gathered 10 truckloads full of clothes and goods to donate to residents in colonias near La Joya. They’re getting ready to start this project again.

“We all just gave what we had,” Flores said. “We just want to give back.”

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