About 300 volunteers from across the Triangle worked tirelessly Monday to beautify their community during an annual Cary event that has become known as “mulch madness.”
As part of Cary’s Martin Luther King Jr. DREAMFEST celebration, the volunteers spread nearly 500 yards of mulch along the 18-hole disc golf course at Middle Creek School Park and picked up more than 500 pounds of litter. They also pruned trees and bushes and rebuilt several disc golf tees, said Sarah Justice, the town’s environmental outreach program coordinator.
“(Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) was for equality and a better quality of life for the entire community,” Justice said. “A public park, where people can enjoy recreation and the great outdoors, supporting a public park definitely fits into the legacy of his work.”
Numerous local groups and organizations, including members of the Cary Area Disc Golf League and Cary Teen Council, participated in the event. Children ranging in ages from eight months to 17 years were also present – many of them with a shovel in hand spreading mulch in 30 degree weather.
“Do your fingers feel like an ice cube?” Tsehai Price, 9, said to her 18-year-old sister, Elon Price, after an hour of work. Elon Price told her sister how proud she was of her.
Price and Tsehai were there with their mother, Casie; 14-year-old brother, Kemet; and a close friend. Casie Price, a Clayton resident, said she got more out of the experience than she initially expected, including quality time with her children.
Rachel Cornette of Raleigh also participated in the Day of Service with her children, who said they like to play sports at the Middle Creek School Park. She said she decided to get involved in the event in honor of King for the first time after recently discovering that her grandmother took a bus from Kansas to Washington to watch one of King’s speeches.
“I decided we needed to be more mindful of getting out today,” she said.
The annual event is coordinated by the town’s Spruce program, which provides residents ways to give back to the community year-long, from biannual town-wide litter sweeps to outdoor improvement projects. Justice said the Day of Service event began at Middle Creek School Park five years ago because the disc golf trail is mulched every January and the park is large enough to accommodate many volunteers. The Day of Service is now the largest Spruce volunteer event of the year.
“This helps prevent erosion, (provides) beautification,” said Mike Sink, the town’s operations and program supervisor for sports. “A lot of this is in preparation for the tournaments we have out here.”
Several local students, including Neerja Shah and Mahika Kawale, 11th-graders at Green Hope High School, said they wanted to help the environment and make a positive impact on their community. That’s why they took part in the service day for the first time.
For others, like Ellaina Shreve, Justice’s daughter and a seventh-grader at West Cary Middle School, participating in the annual event has become a tradition.
“I really like feeling like I can make an impact on my community,” Shreve said.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon