Published April 10, 2014
By Annie Wilson, Journal reporter
Last Saturday, 219 citizens of Bell County came together to help other members of the Belton community during the fourth annual One Community One Day Event. Local citizens donated more than 900 volunteer hours to help those that are unable to do lawn work or outside household maintenance for themselves.
The Youth Advisory Commission organized and ran the event. The YAC is a program through the Belton Parks and Recreation Department in which high school kids learn about local government, the roles they can have in it and making a difference in community.
“We are doing our big community service project that we do for the city of Belton,” Samantha Waggoner, Chairperson of YAC, said. “We go out to the houses of people that are not able to help themselves and clean up whatever they need, whether it is lawns mowed, leaves raked or even painting.”
The event is a hands-on project for those in need of assistance around their home. Applications were submitted, and 18 projects were chosen in addition to six different park locations across Belton.
“The people that we serve have no support system generally. They don’t have a lot of family and friends to come and help them to do the work that they need to get done around their house,” Belton Parks and Recreation Director Sandy Slade said. “That’s what this day is all about, supporting those that need it.”
Over 100 projects have been supported since the OCOD event started four years ago.
“This could be one of our largest years because this is the largest number of projects that we have in one year,” Slade said. “It is amazing what can get done when you bring a lot of people together. We have some groups that have been doing this since day one.”
Belton Police Department and volunteers of CHIP, Citizens Helping in Police Service donated their time the event with 15 to 20 volunteers in attendance.
“We put a team together at the Belton Police Department,” Chief of Belton Police Department Gene Ellis said. “This is our third year to help out. People are always very appreciative and we have a team large enough that we can handle these houses fairly quickly.”
On U.S. 190 a burned down mobile home was in need of being cleared out. Tim Throop of Simply Green, a volunteer had been clearing the area. Due to the OCOD effort and Code Enforcement Officer Kim Ross, the city was able to bring heavy equipment out to help finish the job.
“We are trying to help her out by getting the site all cleaned up so they can place another trailer there,” Ross said. “We have been working on it on the weekends. Piling up things and getting the loose hazardous materials off the property prior to this event. Today is kind of like trying to get it all finished up.”
Dora Pruett had a smile on her face as she stood at the front of her blue house offering volunteers additional extension cords.
“I think this is wonderful. It is a real blessing because me and my husband are in bad shape. He’s got the heart condition and I have diabetes and a whole lot more,” Pruett said. “I really appreciate everything they are doing.
Volunteers used the day not only to help their fellow citizens but also to teach their kids about helping others.
“We are with the Girl Scout of America Daisy Troop 8110, we have four girls her from the troop that are earning our petal to make the world a better place,” Tara Ayers said.
“I volunteer with the police department and I asked them if I could bring my children with me because I knew it was a good opportunity for them to give back to the community,” Nicole Morrison said.
“We also want to make sure that we thank HEB, Shipley’s and Jimmie John’s because they were big contributors to make this happen today.” Slade said “HEB supplied the goodie bags for the volunteers. Jimmy John’s gave a fantastic deal on sandwiches for the whole group when they come back after working so hard and Shipley’s donated donuts for the cause this morning.”