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The community comes out for a day of service, cleaning and beautification

More than 200 people met at the edge of the McDaniel College Campus bright and early Saturday morning, a confluence of volunteers from multiple organizations and institutions, filling the grass behind the arch at the intersections of Main and Union Streets in Westminster, all set on cleaning and beautifying the community.

They would be cleaning up cigarette butts from flower beds, spreading mulch and

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This was, in part, Comcast Cares Day, and annual day of services celebrated by the Boys and Girls Club of Westminster and sponsored by Comcast.

But then it was also part of public service efforts of Knorr Brake. And Carroll Community College.

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And you couldn't miss the many dozens of McDaniel College students who turnd out as part of McDaniel's ninth annual Westminster Clean Up.

"McDaniel does this spring clean up every year and it's never on the same weekend as Comcast Cares Day," said Erin Bishop, marketing director for the Boys and Girls Club. "This year we said, 'let's be smart about it and join forces the same weekend."

While a slew of McDaniel students walked downtown to Locust Lane to tend to flower beds there, McDaniel Grounds Supervisor Joanna Compton organized groups of five or six people to plant new flowers in beds at points around the college campus, taking time to teach many of the young children along for the day.

"This is an annual, does anyone know what an annual is?" She asked. "That's right, It means one year. They have a purpose in life, their purpose is they have continuous color."

And the purpose of mulch?

"It keeps the weeds down, the moisture up, and it looks pretty," Compton said.

Compton has done a lot volunteer gardening and landscaping work with children and homeless people in Baltimore City, she said, and teaching about plants, even at the most basic level, is something that coms natural to her.

The 47th annual Special Olympics Spring Games were held at Westminster High School Friday, bringing together hundreds of athletes for a day of sportsmanship.

"It's therapeutic. When I worked with homeless shelters in the city, many of these ladies had never had a fresh vegetable, let alone had their nails dirty," Compton said. "This is the same thing: you get them early, man, and maybe in their own yard they learn to [plant] and what a fresh vegetable is. Now this isn't a vegetable, but it's the first step. It's beautiful."

One of Compton's volunteers, 9-year-old Alaina Weil, certainly seemed to have caught the gardening bug, digging holes for flowers without the need for a jacket in the morning chill.

"It's helping the environment and also it's nice to do," she said. "You want a nice property for them."

Alaina had come out with her brother Alexander, 12, and their father Ken, who is the treasurer for the Boys and Girls Club board.

"Its good for them. Their young and they need to understand community service and helping out and understanding we're all part of a big community," Ken said. "We've been doing it off and on for a couple of years."

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On the other side of campus, dozens of people were busy scrubbing floors, spackling walls and hauling old furniture out of the building at 25 Union Street, which housed the Boys and Girls Club for a decade before its recent move to 71 E. Main Street on April 9.

"I work for Knorr Brake Company and we have a group within our company called KBC Cares, so we're here volunteering to help," said Jane Bowersex, as she swept a load of debris across the second story floor. It's quite a frenzy, but it's good. Everybody seems happy and here to help."

The Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society at Carroll Community College, meanwhile, also sent a delegation of eight students to help in the clean up efforts, including Juliana Howard, who was applying elbow grease to take the tarnish off a water fountain.

"We have a branch of service that we are really passionate about," Howard said. "We knew we wanted to do something local so we thought, why not do something right down the street and partner with McDaniel and other people who are involved in order to lend a hand?"

The Boys and Girls Club will receive $20 for every unique volunteer that contributed to the project, according to Bishop, another reason why joining forces was a good idea, and a way in which everyone involved could support one another.

"It is the entire community really," she said. "We're hoping by the time it is over we will have about 800 volunteers total."



410-857-3317

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