By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
Students and staff at Little Falls Community High School, armed with rakes and cleaning supplies, scattered across the cities of Little Falls and Randall to help others Wednesday, during the Day of Caring event.
In its fourth year, the day centers on helping residents who need help cleaning their yards.
This year, a total of 1,022 volunteers, including 752 students took part.
“It’s a great day to help everyone in the community,” said student Jeremy Klein, as he worked in Joan DiMatteo’s yard. His fellow junior classmates, mostly Flyer football players, agreed. “It feels good to give back.”
“I think it’s wonderful,” said DiMatteo, who has been a recipient of the help for all four years. “The kids are so good, so polite and so helpful.”
DiMatteo’s yard is over an acre in size — and more than 200 bags of leaves were removed for her. DiMatteo, a resident since 1952, said her husband built their home in 1967.
Bob and Marcia Hammerbeck were also recipients of the help. The senior citizens are disabled and last year were unable to clean their yard.
Marcia said they watched as “Many young folks with rakes in hand descended upon our lawn and began to vigorously rake and clean up last year’s leaves and debris. … They filled 107 big, black garbage bags. I can’t tell you how grateful we are to all the hardworking participants. … This is the kind of love that makes the world go ‘round.”
Mary Kenna of Healthy Communities Collaborative, is part of the joint effort that makes Day of Caring possible.
She said 143 individual homeowners in Little Falls and 14 in Randall had their yards cleared. Eleven city sites in Little Falls and one in Randall were also cleared. “That’s unbelievable,” said Kenna.
She said upper classmates who had been part of the program in earlier years, mentored the freshmen who were taking part for the first time.
Bus drivers volunteered their time to take the kids to the various locations. Sixty-seven district staff members worked with the students as team leaders.
After the work was done, volunteers helped cook burgers and hot dogs at LFCHS. “To serve over 1,000 people in an hour is amazing,” said Kenna.
HCC receives the home-owners’ requests for help. A database is created of the names and addresses, as well as an assessment of what each homeowner needs.
Once that work is done, it goes to school staff and the school works with the city staff. The city provides all the bags and once they are filled, provides pickup.
“Everyone’s so on board, from the staff to the superintendent, to the kids and the maintenance staff,” said Kenna. “It’s just amazing.”