Volunteers at schools on the Cumberland Plateau got a visit Saturday from Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee. Lee toured the schools as part of their Make a Difference Day of work to get ready for the new school year. 

At Monteagle Elementary School, Lee’s first stop, work is underway making things beautiful for a new year. 

Janet Cooper says it wouldn’t be possible without South Cumberland Community Fund's annual Make a Difference Day. 

"These projects would not get done without make a difference day and it's just a wonderful way for the community to come together and work together to improve their schools,” Cooper said. 

This year, Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee toured several schools across the plateau to see the volunteers at work. In May, Lee launched a new initiative called Tennessee Serves, encouraging people to do exactly what these volunteers are doing. 

"Neighbors helping neighbors,” Lee said. “Because we just feel like when people are helping each other, that's what's going to make a difference in these communities." 

Tennessee serves is also focused on helping rural and distressed counties. For Cooper, that means a lot. 

"We're just really excited that rural communities are finally getting recognition,” she said. 

As Lee toured Monteagle today, she had a message for Tennesseans.  

"If you can get involved,” she said. “Look around in your neighborhood, find out what's going on, where the nonprofits are working and just jump in and help." 

And it's one Cooper echoed - get out in your community, and serve.