Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 27, 2013

Valdostans make a difference

VALDOSTA — Make-a-Difference Day for the City of Valdosta kicked-off at Greater St. James Missionary Baptist Church at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. From there, the 60 to 70 volunteers spread out from the McDonald’s on South Patterson Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to make the community glitter, by picking up litter. Keep Lowndes-Valdosta Beautiful (KLVB) sponsored the city’s clean-up efforts.

Jeanette Coody, Becky Lannon, and Janice Blanchard from Azalea City Women’s Club managed the registration booth; they were overjoyed to see so many residents enroll.   

“The organization has volunteered at Make-a-Difference Day for the past 10 years,” Coody said. “We do it because it’s fun and the community needs it.”

Each Make-a-Difference Day, KLVB cleans various regions throughout the City of Valdosta and Lowndes County. Each year, KLVB has always found sites that need cleaning, residents who need a hand with junk.

But with the county’s trash and recycling collection sites closing earlier this year, has KLVB found more junk, trash and litter this year?

Since the closing of the trash collection sites around Lowndes County, the county saw an initial rise in the illegal dumping of trash. But more recently, the amount of illegally dumped trash has been on the decline, said Paige Dukes, Lowndes County clerk.

A Valdosta Police Department officer brought 10 kids whose ages ranged from 8 to 11. These kids were a part of Drug Education for Youth. DEFY’s goal is to build character, leadership, and confidence among the youth, and it graduates students once a year, then it recruits a new group of kids. The organization has volunteered at Make-a-Difference Day since 2001.

Carla Gervin and Molly Roan from KLVB volunteered because the clean-up efforts help the community in many ways, including attracting new businesses to Valdosta.

Valdosta State University students had a strong turn out at the city’s Make-a-Difference Day; Media Arts Geniuses, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, a sociology class, individual students, etc., did their part to clean up Valdosta.

Ayannie Thomas, Khiry Veney, and Josh Lowe from MAG participated because picking up trash makes the community more presentable.

Although the city’s clean-up efforts were a big part of Make-A-Difference Day, there were many locations around the county that requested volunteers. One of which was the Second Harvest of South Georgia, the regional food bank.

Second Harvest Chief Marketing Officer Eliza McCall estimated that 500 volunteers helped clean and sort the food bank’s facility.

Expressing great thanks to the volunteers, McCall said, “We are extremely grateful for the turn out today. Our facility relies heavily on volunteerism.”

Last year, Second Harvest distributed 14 million pounds of food, and is projected to ship 20 million pounds in 2014. This food is distributed to a region of 30 counties, and if needed, the food can be shared nationally, but the food donated locally is distributed locally, McCall explained.

The top shelf in the warehouse is reserved for FEMA products, and can be mobilized to help in any disaster-relief effort.

Second Harvest volunteers included Moody Air Force Base, VSU’s Institute of Management Accountants, S.L. Mason Elementary Junior Beta Club, and the Lowndes High School JROTC, among other organizations, and individuals.

Moody Senior Airman Tera Thompson said the Air Force base often supports Second Harvest. Moody was at the food bank demonstrating safe, non-lethal, self-defense tactics, crime prevention awareness, and tips for safe trick-or-treating.

Sherita Gregory, IMA president, volunteered at the food bank because she enjoyed doing it last year; she had to return. She uses Make-a-Difference Day at the food bank as a bonding experience for her organization and as an opportunity to give back to the community.

S.L. Mason teacher Christie Sermons brought many honor roll students to the food bank. The Junior Beta Club promotes leadership through service, and the students were working hard, and enjoying themselves, too.

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