April 10, 2009
Jan Swoope - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rakes and garden gloves are encouraged, but not essential. A willing heart and pair of hands are the primary tools needed to be an integral part of the Community Day of Service April 18 at Friendship Cemetery.
The seed of the idea first surfaced among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and has led to a coalition of churches and volunteers from groups such as Mississippi University for Women, Boy Scout troops, Columbus Air Force Base and the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 18, everyone is invited to meet at the historic cemetery on Fourth Street South to help remove faded flowers, branches and debris, clean brush, do minor fence repair and even assist in righting monuments that have fallen due to weather or, unfortunately, vandalism.
"A group of us got together and wanted to do something in the community that would be real nice and have other groups be involved, too," said co-organizer Reed Mackay.
After conferring with Meagan Coughlin, of the Community Volunteer Center, and Frank Goodman, city property manager, an organized plan for tackling the most-needed work was developed. Volunteers are urged to bring garden tools and gloves. Refreshments and water will be provided.
"To me, Friendship Cemetery is a Columbus treasure," volunteer Elaine Hegwood said. "It''s of such historic significance. And we have to be proud of our community. Sometimes I think that''s something kind of missing now in our country."
Goodman stated, "We have a contractor that does the ground maintenance at the cemetery, Triple K Services, out of Columbus." But the contractor''s primary work involves cutting grass, a job that takes three to four days, according to the property manager, and costs about $3,000 each cut.
"This is a dedicated group," praised Goodman, who welcomes the volunteer help for other tasks. "They''ve put forth a lot of effort, even going before the mayor and city council."
"It''s been enjoyable to contact other churches and groups," Mackay enthused. "They''ve all been so willing. Several just jumped right up and said, ''Put us down.'' This is an open invitation for anyone and everyone in the community to come down and help us."
For more information about the Day of Service, contact Mackay at 662-329-2533 or ColumbusDOS@bellsouth.net.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.