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ISSUE 118 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/6/2005

Day of service unites community

By Alyssa Kleven
Contributing Writer

Friday, May 6, 2005

At 12:09 p.m. Saturday at Central Park in Northfield, the sun started to shine and the birds began to chirp. Only minutes before it had been snowing.

Poor weather conditions, however, did not stop those who came out to serve on Northfield’s Community Day of Service. This year, over 200 volunteers from St. Olaf, Carleton and the Northfield community gathered to clean up parks and the highway and to raise money for area food shelves.

This year marked the ninth annual Community Day of Service, and for the second year, Susan Sanders of Northfield Public Schools was in charge.

Sanders commented on the bad timing of the snow to a fellow coordinator on the phone as the snow was falling on top of all her paper work.

"We lucked out," she said. "If people would have woken up to rain, no one would have come."

But at 7:30 a.m., volunteers gathered in Central Park and then dispersed into smaller groups to pick up litter around town.

When a group came to a neighborhood park, Sanders said that the neighbors would show up and help with that particular area. Some parks and neighborhoods had as many as 20 people working at once, while others had only two.

Almost everyone who volunteered had seen the signs advertising the event ahead of time and had signed up through the event's Website.

This year, the event coordinators decided to add a concert and food at the end of the day. Lunch, which was sponsored by the Cannon Valley Lions, fed the hard-working volunteers, while St. Olaf’s Taiko Drum group and Carleton’s a cappella group, Intertwining Melodies, performed.

The city collected the bags of garbage Monday and disposed of them properly.

Despite the weather, the day seemed to go off without a hitch thanks to careful planning.

Scott Davis of the City Council was part of the planning team. "There isn’t a whole lot to it, it’s just finding the people," Davis said. St. Olaf and Carleton split the advertising costs for the event.

Posters which advertised the event and the Website were a key part of planning, noted high school volunteer Jennifer Chalan. "We came up with poster designs and what sites we'd go to," Chalan said. It was her first year helping out.

Cub Scout troops were also among those volunteering as they cleaned up Highway 3. "We like community service," Cub Scout Ryan Sawyer said.

It was important for crews to find sponsors also. Along with St. Olaf and Carleton, DuFour’s Dry Cleaning lent gloves to volunteers picking up trash and the city of Northfield and Stone Cottage Photography also contributed to the event.

Last year, the day of service got an extra boost when coordinators worked with Bandon Leadership. This year, coordinators wanted to bring it up another step so they added the picnic celebration at the event’s close. The rain and snow showers stopped so the volunteers could enjoy the music when they were finished cleaning.

Next year, however, the event coordinators have high hopes as far as bringing more people out on the day, which is tentatively scheduled for April 22, 2006. "We'd like to expand [the day of service]," Sanders said.

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