For Columbia County Sheriff's Office Lt. Clay Smith, it's a change of pace and a way to give back.
Above all, though, it's fun.
Since 1995, Smith has been a mentor at Greenbrier Elementary School. He goes to the school at least once a week and does various things with an assigned pupil.
They build model cars, eat lunch and talk about what's going on in the pupil's life.
He plans to go the zoo in Columbia, S.C., with a class next month and has gone bowling and skating with pupils.
"It's not a situation where they have a problem with school or anything like that," Smith said. "They just need someone to have fun with and talk to."
Smith doesn't reserve his time for school hours only. Several of the pupils he has mentored over the years have seen him in the community and talked to him about whatever may be going on in their lives at the time.
One pupil lives near Smith. The boy lives with his grandmother because his mother has been in and out of jail for years and he doesn't know who his father is. After a rough start, Smith said the boy is doing better in school and seems happier.
"He'll come up to me just about every other week," Smith said. "He's a good kid."
Smith, one of 12 volunteers at Greenbrier Elementary, said the program gives pupils a great opportunity to see law enforcement officers in a positive light and gives him a chance to help the pupils avoid making a wrong turn in life.
"They'll see me in the streets and can say they know me and have eaten lunch with me," Smith said. "I'd rather them say that than, 'Hey, he locked up my daddy."'
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