23 APRIL 2009 In his presidential campaign he put the emphasis on working together to build a better America. And this week Barack Obama made good on his pledge by tripling the money available for community volunteers by signing a $5.7 billion national service bill.
The money will expand the opportunities for students to earn money for college by undertaking tasks like mentoring children, cleaning up parks or buildings and refurbishing homes for the poor. And the President and his wife Michelle lead by example this week, joining high school children in the task of planting trees at a national park near the Anacostia River in northeast Washington.
Michelle bantered with her husband as the pair set about digging holes for the saplings. "We have the biggest tree," she told the 47-year-old statesman after eyeing up his group's plant. Having got his in place Mr Obama asked Michelle if she needed help with her tree. "Well, not now," joked the 45-year-old, who had completed most of the hard work already.
The couple, who were joined by former US President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden in the task, were participating in the project in a move to encourage youngsters to volunteer in their communities.