Volunteers clean up trail for MLK Day of Service

Community volunteers pose for a photo after the city clean-up event Jan. 19 on the Interurban Trail in Kent. - Courtesy Victoria Andrews
Community volunteers pose for a photo after the city clean-up event Jan. 19 on the Interurban Trail in Kent.
— image credit: Courtesy Victoria Andrews

Editor’s Note: Victoria Andrews, special programs manager for the Kent Parks, Recreation & Community Services Department, this week shared these photos and the following e-mail about a successful volunteer day that took place Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Kudos to Andrews and all the volunteers who came out to help, and who made MLK Day a special time in Kent.

Normally, Kent Parks does not offer volunteer events during the winter months. But about a week ago I received an e-mail from a Web site I post volunteer opportunities on stating, in part:

President-Elect Barack Obama, together with community leaders and nonprofits from across the nation, called upon Americans to follow the lead of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and commit to service and volunteering on the MLK Day of Service on Jan. 19.

So, even though it was short notice and the city is closed in observance of the holiday, I decided to do a litter clean-up along the Interurban Trail from 2:30-4:30 p.m. I posted the opportunity Monday on two volunteer Web sites, our community calendar, and via an e-mail to the students, service clubs and scouting groups on my distribution list. By Friday, I had responses from about 20, so I was pleased. On Monday, 60 volunteers showed up, ready to pitch in! They ranged in age from a troop of 5-year-old Daisy Girl Scouts to senior citizens.

The first to arrive was a family of four who drove down from North Seattle to help, along with a high school student with her aunt, who didn’t speak much English. All arrived at 1:45 p.m. while I was setting up and didn’t wait for others, just grabbed bags and pick-sticks and got started.

Half of the group headed north and the other half went south. I brought 20 trash bags with me and many more than that were filled, because a Girl Scout troop arriving late bought more! We separated recycling and trash, so people got to know each other as they checked who had which bags. All together, at least 22 blocks on either side of the trail were cleaned.

Here’s an e-mail I got Tuesday morning:

“Just wanted to say thank you on behalf of Daisy Troop No. 42851. It was such a great experience to be there and we all loved it. You have done a wonderful job on getting so many together and cleaning up the park. It was the most rewarding when the biker stopped and said ‘thank you so very much.’ That was worth the few hours we did. Just knowing we have made a few people happy is worth more than a badge or patch or anything else.”

What I loved was that we all felt drawn to do something in honor of Dr. King and our new president. Happy Inauguration Day!

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