Members of the Lawncrest community came together on Saturday to clean up “The Grove” next to the Lawncrest Rec Center in preparation for Thursday’s second annual Veteran’s Day celebration.
The cleanup activities were spearheaded by Kathy Wersinger, administrative assistant to Councilwoman Marian Tasco. “We’re here today to honor our veterans for next Thursday – Veteran’s Day,” she said. “We’re cleaning up this area of the Lawncrest Rec Center called the Grove. There are three memorials honoring our veterans from Korean, Vietnam, World War I and World War II. We’re going to make it a nice place to honor them on Thursday.”
The St. William’s fifth grade class was part of the effort to help clean up. In addition, the students were part of an essay contest along with students fromFranklin School titled “What a Veteran Means to Me.” The winners will be thereThursday to read their essays.
Among the volunteers was Kathy McDonough, a fifth grade teacher at St. William’s. Her students also took an active part in the raking of leaves around the area. “I got them involved through Kathy [Wersinger] because they are preparing for Confirmation in 2011, so we do as many service projects for the school, the church and community as we possibly can,” she said.
McDonough said she feels that the cleanup was important leading into Thursday’s celebration. “For me, as a teacher, I think [the kids] giving back to their neighborhood that’s given them so much is really important,” she said. “It instills wonderful values in children this age and hopefully they’re going to carry them through for the rest of their lives.”
McDonough also said she looks forward to returning on Thursday. “We’ll be here on Veteran’s Day to celebrate with our essays, and the children and community will become one.”
A young veteran was apart of the effort as well. Antonio Jimenez, 27, a veteran of Iraq, was there to do his part. “I’m a member of the Rising Sun V.F.W Post 2819,” he said. “I was there the other day; they told me about today, so I decided to give a hand today.”
On why the day is important to him, Jimenez did not hesitate to respond. “Personally, I’m a veteran, I was in Iraq,” he said. “So, Veteran’s Day, while it’s only one day, it’s important to me. It’s important all the time.”
Wersinger said she feels last year’s initial effort made a huge difference, even this year. “Last year we cleaned up this area and this year it isn’t as hard to do because I think the children in the neighborhood and especially the kids that come here find it more respectful,” she said. “Now they know what it is. It means something more to them than just an area of the rec center.”
Wersinger even gave an example of the respect the youth of Lawncrest has shown the area. “An example of how I know nobody is vandalizing it is that wreaths were laid here on Memorial Day and when we came back today, they were still intact,” she said.
On the importance of the day, Wersinger said, “I think it’s important to see the community come together, to see different organizations come together such as the V.F.W., the schools, the libraries, the community associations, to see that we can all work together, and resonate.”