Volunteers help tidy city
Volunteers came out in force in support of the Great American Cleanup effort in Winston-Salem on Saturday.
Nearly 700 residents took part in the annual event, part of a national effort that is supported locally by Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful and a handful of corporations with ties to the city. Youth and young people had a strong showing at this year’s cleanup, which was held in conjunction with Forsyth Creek Week, making up a large portion of several teams that were deployed in various areas of East Winston.
City native Teresa Gaither oversaw a team of young people and a few adult volunteers who worked to clean up the campus of Easton Elementary Saturday morning. The cleanups are a regular occurrence for the school’s students – some of who were on hand for the effort Saturday – and its supporters.
“This is our third cleanup for our school this year. It just kind of fit in with our theme of keeping our community here clean,” explained Gaither, a longtime teacher’s assistant at Easton. “…They take pride in their school – these guys come on their own.”
A contingent of Glenn High School students also lent a helping hand at Easton.
“We had to do it for our school for like, a community thing and one of the choices was Easton,”freshman Vanessa Salazar, a former Easton student, said of the cleanup. “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s my school,’ so I went. Being near my school again, it had old memories and all.”
Fellow Glenn student Estelle Gonzales said participating in the effort was a good experience for her.
“It’s been fun because I’m with my friends,” related the aspiring attorney. “It helps the community and makes it look nicer.”
Cleanup efforts are also commonplace at Exodus Baptist Church on Wilbur Street, where more than 40 volunteers, including 15 youth from the Crosby Scholars program, took part.
“It’s something to get the children involved with,” commented Exodus member Renita Fields. “It’s some of the people out here in the community that need help.”
Fields’ granddaughter, Kiana Evans, lent her support to the cleanup at Exodus as part of her community service for the Crosby Scholars, which provides college scholarship money to its participants.
“I just really enjoyed it because we’re cleaning up the community,” declared Kiana, a student at Mineral Springs Middle School. “It’s just amazing what we can do. People don’t realize that God created this earth for us, and we need to take care of it.”
Saturday’s project coincided with Exodus’s weekly soup kitchen effort, where members distribute free soup to those who are hungry in the community. The church hosts community cleanup days quarterly, but Mary Moore, a longtime member and one of the cleanups’ organizers, said the effort had never attracted a crowd like the one that showed up last weekend.
“Today has been a mind blowing experience because we’ve never had this many people to volunteer,” said Moore, a former deputy sheriff.
“It’s been great. It’s good to see the kids out. I think kids need to learn responsibility, community service and to be concerned about somebody outside of themselves.”
Down the road at Bowen Park, Boy Scouts and members of a service organization at Carver High School joined forces to clean the park and the area surrounding the creek that runs through it. First cousins Abigail, Dulce, Edith, Michael and Tania Jimenez represented Carver’s Sertoma Club at the cleanup.
“It helps a lot because it’s actually pretty good to come out and help people, and we live like five minutes away,” said Dulce, a senior.
Sertoma members engage in a variety of community-driven activities, from volunteering at the Samaritan Soup Kitchen to serving the Salvation Army as bell ringers at Christmastime and planting trees and flowers for Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful, said Nelson Shearouse, a retired school administrator who founded the club at Carver over 20 years ago. “We do a lot of volunteer work. In fact, this afternoon, we’re selling peanuts and drinks at Sam’s Club to raise money for hams for needy families at Easter,” noted the 84 year-old. “We do this cleanup once a year. We’ve been doing it for a long time … I just think it’s important to do things for the community.”
The park is just minutes from the LaDeara Crest community, where Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack #880 are based. Scoutmaster Harold Wright said the cleanup was a valuable learning experience for the seven boys whom he and Cubmaster Latosha Gill convinced to brave the cold and take part in the effort.
“It gives them a sense of responsibility,” Wright remarked. “The guys, they learn teamwork and they learn how to take pride in the community and keeping the community clean.”