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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Cleanups are set for Day to Serve

Friday, September 20, 2013

From Bulletin staff reports

Three hours of a person’s time on Saturday can help significantly improve Martinsville’s appearance, according to Interim Police Chief Eddie Cassady.

From 9 a.m. until noon that day, the city will participate in Day to Serve, a regional effort to strengthen communities through public service projects.

Volunteers are sought to help pick up litter throughout Martinsville. Anyone interested in helping is welcome. However, the city is asking church and civic groups to get involved because Day to Serve is aimed at encouraging people to put aside political, religious and cultural differences and cooperate to help make their communities better, a Martinsville City Council report shows.

All Neighborhood Watch groups are being asked to take part, Cassady said.

Volunteers are asked to gather at any of the following locations: Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church on Fayette Street, Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church on Starling Avenue, McCabe Memorial Baptist Church on Clearview Drive and Fuller Memorial Baptist Church on Askin Street.

Those churches were selected largely because of their past participation in Neighborhood Watch activities. By focusing on areas surrounding them, the Day to Serve essentially can include all parts of the city — north, south, east and west, according to Cassady.

How much of each area can be covered will “depend on how many people show up,” said City Manager Leon Towarnicki.

If just a few volunteers go to each church, cleanups probably will focus on places within walking distance, Towarnicki said. But if large crowds attend, cleanups can extend farther into neighborhoods, he said.

“We want to cover as much ground as we safely can,” he added. Yet “anything (that is cleaned up) will be a big help and appreciated.”

City police Officer Coretha Gravely, who oversees Neighborhood Watch and community policing efforts, thinks the event will be well-attended. At similar past events, she said, people who did not know about the events came out and pitched in after they saw activity in their neighborhoods.

Gravely said she encourages young people to participate and “take pride in their neighborhood.” Participation will count toward community service that high school students must have to graduate, she noted.

The city will supply volunteers with trash bags to use during the cleanup, and the police department will provide cold water for participants, officials said.

City manpower and equipment can be provided if enough people show up at any location to tackle a major project — for instance, cleaning up a ravine where a large amount of garbage has been dumped, Towarnicki said.

Day to Serve began last year as a project of the governors of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland and the mayor of Washington, D.C., to feed the hungry, protect and enhance the environment, and strengthen communities.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell proclaimed Sept. 15-29 as the period in which to do Day to Serve projects statewide.

In connection with Day to Serve, the city is sponsoring a bloodmobile from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday at the American Red Cross office in the Holiday Shopping Center on Virginia Avenue near Collinsville.

Here and elsewhere, some Day to Serve projects are aimed at preventing hunger.

In Martinsville, the Virginia Museum of Natural History will collect food during its Smithsonian Museum Day on Sept. 25. Admission that day will be free to those who go online at and download a special ticket. Those who bring at least one canned food item will get a complimentary pass for a future visit, the Day of Care’s website shows.

Food collected at the museum will be donated to the Grace Network’s food pantry.

Martinsville residents also are encouraged to drop off bags of canned food at any local food pantry or donate money to a pantry, city officials said.


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