Saturday, April 17th turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far, but that didn’t stop 146 volunteers from bringing their families, friends and coworkers to three Clatsop County sites to clean up, plant and rebuild at parks and nonprofits.
The 2021 Day of Caring, hosted by United Way of Clatsop County was truly a community event. Supplies donated by the Home Depot Foundation in combination with funds from TLC/Fibre Federal Credit Union, Providence Seaside Hospital, Columbia Memorial Hospital, NW Natural and Arbonne Independent Consultant Cathy Jo Kirkpatrick were used to pick up trash (11 large, 18 medium & 41 small bags donated by SOLVE Oregon), clear storm debris, clean cabins, power wash structures, weed, plant, rebuild garden beds & install ADA pavers at Railroad Community Gardens in Seaside, Camp Kiwanilong in Warrenton and Hilltop Apartments in Astoria.
Sites were chosen based on COVID-safe opportunities to improve outdoor areas. Volunteers stayed outside, wore masks and remained socially distant from other volunteers throughout the event.
They worked hard, but with refreshments provided by US Foods, snacks from Astoria Co+Op and Natural Grocers and sandwiches provided by Subway, volunteers were treated to warm weather, good food and a sense of community that has been hard to come by this last year.
Site #1 benefited 22 residents of Hilltop Apartments, a low-income apartment complex owned by Clatsop Community Action. Residents, including two veterans, are now enjoying a beautiful outdoor space with English Lavender, bright yellow marigolds and white astilbe.
Project Site #2, Camp Kiwanilong, boasted the most unique clean up activity which included canoes on the Camp’s beloved Long Lake. Camp employees believe a beaver has been gnawing on the styrofoam dock floats causing debris to spread across the lake for a number of months. Water-loving volunteers skimmed the lake of trash while their land-loving counterparts cleaned up branches from the February ice storm, spring cleaned camp cabins and power washed outbuildings and docks. Registration is open for a DAY CAMP Summer Youth Program at campkiwanilong.org —happening this year despite COVID! Other groups also use this beautiful, rustic space for conventions and meetings including civic and veteran groups.
The largest project at site #3, Railroad Community Gardens in Seaside was moving 40 yards of hog fuel donated by Nygaard Logging. Volunteers shoveled, dug, carted, dumped and raked the material into pathways between garden beds. The material–somewhat like bark dust, will act as a weed control and also add cushion for gardeners on their knees. ADA pavers were also installed for a more equitable gardening opportunity and new hoses were attached to water pumps for site gardeners.
The 53-plot gardens are run by Sunset Empire Parks and Recreation District (SEPRD), and are still taking applications for gardeners. Approximately 10% of garden bed renters are veterans, an underserved demographic in Clatsop County.
Each Day of Caring volunteer site produced a significant amount of debris being collected by Recology, administrative costs were covered by Georgia Pacific/Wauna Mill, and the altruism keeps going as community members also donated over 16 large boxes of “essential items” for nonprofit clients– including food, baby supplies, personal care items and new clothing collected at volunteer sites as well as the Barbey Center at Columbia River Maritime Museum.
The 2021 Day of Caring turned out to be truly that…a day where the compassion we have for our community was able to shine. Thank you to everyone involved!
A special thank you to Arthur Koustik at Home Depot, Viviana Matthews and Megan McCall at CCA, Robyn Koustik at K&M Yard Maintenance, Skyler Archibald and Levi Conner at Sunset Empire Parks and Recreation District, Amy Koch at Camp Kiwanilong and Day of Caring Committee Members Katrina Gasser, Cathy Jo Kirkpatrick and Kelsey Hix. None of this would have happened without you!