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Comcast, Groundwork volunteers ready to rebuild garden beds, get rid of trash Saturday

by Paul Tennant, Eagle Tribune

Hundreds of volunteers are getting ready to invade Lawrence on Saturday.

This is not a hostile invasion. Rather, the volunteers will be rebuilding community garden beds and removing trash from the streets and vacant lots.

Comcast, the giant telecommunications corporation; Groundwork Lawrence, a nonprofit group that promotes community gardens and a clean environment among other goals; and the city of Lawrence are providing the manpower.

They are determined to “make change happen,” according to Heather McMann, executive director of Groundwork Lawrence. Nearly 1,200 people are expected to revitalize 25 sites across the city, she said.

Work will be concentrated at Costello Park and a farm located off Loring Avenue, in the heart of the area affected by the Sept. 13 gas disaster. Volunteers will be rebuilding community garden beds, repairing the fence surrounding the farm and moving compost.

This effort is part of the 18th annual Comcast Cares Day, one of the nation’s largest single-day community service undertakings. An estimated 100,000 volunteers will be working on projects throughout the United States.

Saturday's cleanup marks the 10th anniversary of the partnership joining Groundwork Lawrence, Comcast and the city of Lawrence, according to McMann.

Lesly Melendez, who worked at Groundwork from 2002 to 2004, left the nonprofit sector and took a job with Comcast. She missed the community building aspect of her work at Groundwork, however, McMann said.

So she brought Comcast and Groundwork Lawrence together in 2009 and the partnership has continued to grow ever since, she said. During the past nine years, more than 7,000 volunteers have worked on more than 200 sites, built 40 raised garden beds, planted more than 600 trees and removed more than 200 tons of trash, according to McMann.


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