Students at Eagle Ridge Elementary in Milledgeville got a lesson Thursday from the staff of the local Belk store. It didn't have to do with customer service and it wasn't a career day.

Armed with hammers, screwdrivers and nails, kids helped several Belk employees with new additions to their school.

As a part of its 125th anniversary, the department store chain is giving back to the community that gives to it.

Students split into two groups, each making a shelf. It quickly turned into a competition between boys and girls.

"Of course we got finished first. And now the boys are over there. They're still trying to do theirs," said Amiya Northern.

Northern, a fifth grader, is a part of the school's Project Hope. It's a school club that takes on community projects to help people. She says it's nice to finally lend a helping hand to her own school. "This really means a lot," said Northern.

The event also meant a lot to Benetra Hargrove. The Belk manager said she enjoyed working with the kids and even learned a thing or two.

"They were teaching me things. She was like, 'Oh, it's a loosey-left and righty,' and I forgot what she told me but, yeah, righty tighty, lefty-loosey," said Hargrove.

Like Hargrove, John Cooke is new to construction, so a whole new world opened up for the 10-year-old.

"I've always wanted to build something. And this was actually the first time I felt like I was a grown-up," said Cooke.

Students watched as store employees built a picnic table.
In the beginning they had some technical difficulty but pushed through.

Tina Roberts has worked at Belk for almost 35 years.
She said seeing the kids' reaction made it worth helping out.

Belk employees said the kids asked them to return.

Follow Elise Brown on Twitter @elisedbrown