When Dave Maffitt, Chair of the Volunteer Airdrie Society had read about Airdronian Angel Rose's dismay due to litter in Fletcher Regional Park, he began to ponder how he might help.
Maffitt said that perhaps it was a stroke of serendipity that during the same time, he had received a call from Jaime Young, a teacher and chaplain at the Airdrie Christian Academy. Young had told him that the school offers a monthly community service program in which students volunteer their time to different activities within Airdrie.
"She has been struggling to actually find volunteer opportunities in the Airdrie area for a group that size [approximately 130 students]. I immediately thought of your article and thought, 'Why not clean up the park?'," Maffitt said. "So I contacted [the] parks and roads [department] and got approval to do the cleanup."
On Wednesday, April 26, students from grades 7 - 12 from the academy scoured the park for well over two hours and collected close to 35 bags of trash.
"I instructed the kids to pick up anything and everything bigger than a cigarette butt. They went through the whole park area, including the trees in the alleyway," Maffitt explained.
Although he noted no bio-hazardous material was found, Maffitt said that parts of a broken pellet gun were retrieved during the clean-up of the park.
"We were picking up pine cones, small pieces of broken branches; there was a lot of that around the playground area. I was quite concerned about the risk to the small children to have a bunch of broken branches strewn around."
Young said that the type of activity that the youths from the academy participated in, is what fosters not only bonds with the community they live in, but also fosters leadership.
"I truly believe [and what] our school truly believes, [is] that we hold many leaders of the future in our classrooms, and that leadership begins with service. That's the mission behind it."
She did note this year has been difficult in making connections within the community in order to send the volunteers and she added that she is hopeful that the message will spread that the kids in the program are not only willing, but also ready to answer the calls of their neighbours, friends, and fellow Airdrie residents.
"What is a world where everybody is living as an individual? I think we have an opportunity to teach our kids that life can be different and that life is so much better and happier when we are community-minded," she said. "Communities and cities were built from people coming together with a vision and I don't think that that should end in 2023."
Angel Rose, the resident who had originally shared her concerns with Discover Airdrie, said that the news was beautiful.
"I love seeing people coming together for the greater good. Especially the places like Fletcher Park; our Memorial Forest. That made my heart happy."
Rose underlined that her concerns last time stemmed from the fact that she is simply asking others to do better and be better to each other.
"Airdrie is a very beautiful city and I'm proud to be a resident here. There isn't a street you can walk down [where] somebody's not going say hello. We all do look out for each other and when someone's in need of something, somebody jumps right in and helps."
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