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United Way Day of Caring sparks youth involvement
10/07/2014 - By Nicole Luna - Cleburne Times Review
Young volunteers were doing heavy lifting for the 10th annual United Way of Johnson County Day of Caring event on Saturday morning.
Hundreds of volunteers teamed up to donate their time to help.
There were five projects for volunteers to choose from, ranging from planting gardens to cleaning up overgrown yards to decorating the city for the fall season.
Locations included Winston Patrick McGregor Park, the Johnson County Courthouse, CPU Computers, Camp Fire USA Tesuya Council and the Johnson County Family Crisis Center.
At McGregor Park, the Rio Vista High School National Honor Society met up with Grace Clanton and Julie Winchell with the city of Cleburne water department to solarize a garden at the park.
Soil solarization is a nonchemical method for controlling soilborne pests using high temperatures by capturing radiant energy from the sun. The method involved the young volunteers heating the soil by covering it with a clear plastic tarp that will be there for four to six weeks, in which the soil will receive the most direct sunlight.
RVHS senior Keleigh Salazar said NHS requires a certain amount of volunteer hours for members so she and her fellow members volunteer time in the county throughout the year.
“It was a little chilly this morning but it was great to come out and help our community,” Salazar said. “Just dedicating our time a couple times a year can help our community.
Clanton, who is in charge of the park’s maintenance, said the park is run by volunteers so events like Day of Caring help.
“Part of the park’s importance is that it’s an educational garden so not only are the volunteers helping out but they are also learning about the native plants grown here,” Clanton said.
Over at CPU computers on Main Street, Christmas in Action volunteers helped the owner of the building clear out the lot because he plans to sell the building soon, CIA President Paul Haiman said.
Some of the volunteers were from CIA and others were from Pinnacle Bank, like Vice President Janet Goodman, who was pulling large branches out to the front of the building.
“We’re glad to come and help Christmas in Action and United Way today,” Goodman said. “We so appreciate everything the organizations do for the community. It does so much to help make a difference in people’s lives.”
Farther away at the Family Crisis Center, a group of 16 Rio Vista Elementary students and older adults helped spread mulch for flower beds, stained decks, washed cars and cut purple ribbons to wear for National Domestic Violence Awareness month.
“Every year it’s a huge help and we enjoy very much having them here not just for the help but telling them about what we do and making great connections,” FCC Prevention Specialist Amy Lane said. “We truly appreciate [the volunteers] wanting to be part of our agency and our community.”
Other groups went to the courthouse to put up fall decorations and to Camp Fire USA to make blankets for the homeless.
United Way Executive Director Aly Engstrom said it was a great day of volunteer work and everyone worked hard and finished by noon.
“Anytime you do an unselfish act of kindness for somebody else it’s a rewarding feeling and that’s what we try to do here at United Way,” Engstrom said. “That’s how we live united.”
On the web: CleburneTimesReview.com

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