2016 Essay Contest – Claire Van Aken

2016 Essay Contest  – Claire Van Aken

What would make this community a better place to live and what possibilities would you suggest to achieve that goal?”

Community Clean-Up Day Project

By: Claire Van Aken

8th Grade at Turner Junior High School

Jacksonville is a community. A community full of hard working individuals. A community full of people with big hearts. A community that acts more of a family. Jacksonville is a smaller town in central Illinois that is continuously finding ways to get people together and involved socially, physically, and mentally. However, our time together is sometimes limited when we do have the opportunity to be gathered. Jacksonville is my favorite place in this world, it’s my home. And I want it to be welcoming and look beautiful. Creating events that will bring people together and benefiting our town, like a Community Clean-Up Day, will overall be recognized.

Jacksonville is no more than a beautiful town by itself. But, making it look even better with the help of it’s fellow citizens would be something special for everyone. I think Jacksonville should have a Semi-Annual volunteered day where adults and kids of all ages would provide care for their favorite places in Jacksonville. People could gather friends and family, create teams. It could even be you and your mom working on your front lawn. Or taking one for the team and having a few friends clean up the street you live on. Others might bring their tools to the Downtown Square and pull weeds. Get creative! It shouldn’t feel like volunteer work, even when it is, this day would be about getting together and pitching in and giving a little bit back to your very own community.

For many, being a volunteer worker makes them feel good about themselves. Volunteering in your community is a privilege to everyone and anyone. It’s rare to be asked but always a gracious option. In Jacksonville, we have a vast majority of people who love volunteering. Some, it’s what they do best. Community Clean-Up Day would be the day where volunteers from all over the town would be able to put in their time and give back to our home. So get your shovels, buckets and pails, and positive attitude and come volunteer in Jacksonville!

This project’s main goal is to bring the residents of Jacksonville together in a fun and creative way. It’s about meeting people in your community who have the same passion to make our home town look beautiful, and, working hard in a fun way. Our town should be together and doing hard work in ways that will encourage others to do the same. On this semi-annual event, there should be music, food and drinks, and lots and lots of people ready to work. The more fun we have doing it, believe it or not, will keep us motivated and moving efficiently. With the help of our town, we can make the process of our city being at its best by spending a day every six months, or even more often than that, cleaning up trash, planting flowers, pulling weeds, or mowing lawns. People can also contribute their tools to this day. Let’s say you want to be involved in this event but you will be out of town or at work, check with family, friends, or neighbors, who may be involved in this project, and let them know if they are low on supplies you would be more than willing to contribute a pack of nails, a hammer, shovel, or mower. There’s never too many people to help either. I envision this event to start at 9am and have the Mayor, Andy Ezard say a few words in the Central Park Plaza, Downtown Square before everyone starts their work. Then everyone can work until 2pm or so and meet back at the Square for a wrap-up ceremony with refreshments. It’s important the volunteer’s hard work and determination is recognized at the end of the day. This project would continuously benefit our community in many ways. And that is why this dream should become a reality.

If a day like this was put together in honor of our community, think of all the possibilities. We could be walking on clean sidewalks, with fresh planted flowers, and admiring all the outstanding work you and your town contributed. And what a wonderful feeling you will have once you are done. So now, look around you look at the beautiful scenery and think how you can make it even better. Nothing is perfect but, the thought of being with the people of your community all doing for the good, that’s a perfect thought. So join the city of Jacksonville and volunteer in the Community Clean-Up Day Project.

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