Residents encouraged to make a difference
SIKESTON - A self-described "big guy," Gary Warner often gets the job of loading and emptying trucks during Sikeston's Communitywide Clean-up. But it was "a little lady" who made him realize last year just how much good he and the other volunteers do.
He recalled he and another volunteer were sent to a Sikeston address where they were greeted by an elderly woman using a walker. Her task for the clean-up day, she explained, was a limb which extended from a tree in her yard, over the drive-way next door. She worried the limb was a problem for her neighbor.
The men trimmed the limb and Warner loaded it in their truck. The woman watched them, obviously grateful for their efforts. "You would have thought we had given her the keys to the Kingdom," marveled Warner.
It was a special moment, but just one of several volunteers say they experience when they join in the Clean-up Day activities.
"It is a real opportunity to give something back to the community," said Warner about participation. "Anytime we as citizens can make Sikeston a better place to live, we need to get on board and do it enthusiastically."
Warner is talking up participation, telling his customers, friends, church members and others about the day-long clean-up effort.
Leading the effort to spread the word is Larry Braden, who is chairing the Communitywide Clean-up Day coordinated by the United Methodist Men's group and the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce. The event is in conjunction with the nationwide Make-A-Difference Day.
Last year 61 volunteers, including Braden and Warner, filled 122 requests for clean-up in the community. This year Braden estimates at least 100 volunteers are needed.
Information about the clean-up is being sent to local churches and civic groups, urging members to volunteer. Also the Sikeston Public Schools, which has inaugurated a Service Learning program for students in 9-12 grades, is encouraging students to show civic responsibility by joining in the effort to clean-up their hometown.
A "Spirit Award Competition" sponsored by the Chamber seeks to create some friendly competition among local church youth groups and will award a plaque to the group with the most participating volunteers.
"We hope to get the youth of the community really involved," said Braden. "It gives them a sense of responsibility for their community. They can understand a little better of how the rest of the community lives, meet other people and interact with adults."
Registration is at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 26 the staging area at Compress Road and North Street. Clean-up times are scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m. Braden said by setting two different shifts, he hopes those who might not be able to give a full-day of volunteering will join them for part of the day.
Also he is collecting clean-up projects from residents in need of their help. Individuals with clean-up projects are asked to fill out a permission form and return it to the Chamber by Oct. 24.
On Oct. 26, volunteers will be provided with projects and addresses. Braden encourages volunteers to bring along tools such as shovels, rakes and hoes. "You should have some gloves with you and if the weather is warm, bring a hat and some sunblock. We don't talk about rain because that hasn't happened," he said.
Also pickup trucks and trailers are needed to take things to the Sikeston Compost Site, which will be open throughout the day.
At the end of the day, volunteers will find they have not only made a difference in their community but in their lives, Braden said. "When you see the results of what you do and who you are doing it for - the elderly, the handicapped, someone who doesn't have the abilities to do a project - that is big satisfaction. Also it helps to cement community relations among the people."
Warner agreed. "The first year I worked I was standing out at the dump helping to unload trucks. At one time I looked up and there was sweat pouring off everyone, it was near the end of the day and we were all tired. But here were people from several churches, all corners of the city and we were all working within a 10-foot space of each other. It was a real coming together. It was pretty neat."
When: Oct. 26. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. at the staging area at Compress Road and North Street. Volunteers can participate in clean-up details from 9 a.m. to noon, from 1 to 3 p.m. or both times.
Who: Volunteers are needed. Individuals or organizations can take part and are encouraged to fill out a registration form. Church youth groups participating can compete for a "Spirit Award" given to the group with the most volunteers. The form is in today's paper.
What: Residents can request projects for volunteers to complete during the day. All requests will be reviewed and signed permission must be given for the volunteers to compete the task.
What participants will need: Trucks and trailers are needed for hauling away debris. Hoes, rakes, shovels, gloves are also recommended.