Residents, students volunteer to clean up

Joe Harrington

Kent residents Austin Bensinger, Mike Brown, Chris Leppla and Daniel Brown pick up trash in downtown Kent Saturday. Members of Our Father’s House church, they said they wanted to do “something for the community that should definitely get done.” LESLIE C

Credit: Jason Hall

It is a special day when college students voluntarily wear neon green vests, carry shovels and sweep up trash in downtown Kent on a Saturday morning.

Saturday was Earth Day, and Brad Slease, treasurer of the Human Service Management Student Association, Kent State graduate student and Kent resident for more than 40 years, said “Mother Nature said to go out and clean today.”

With clear skies and a 70-degree temperature, around 100 volunteers gathered at the Rock Caf‚ in downtown Kent at 10 a.m. From there, the volunteers went across the city in groups of five to pick up trash, remove graffiti and sweep up broken glass on the sidewalks. Volunteers were then treated to free food from Jimmy John’s and Franklin Square Deli.

The groups cleaned streets from Haymaker Parkway to Crain Avenue, cleaning alley ways, parks and sidewalks.

The event featured several different organizations: Human Service Management Student Association, Center for Student Involvement and the AmeriCorps VISTA Program, along with members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Community members also volunteered, fulfilling one of the main project goals of getting Kent State students and area residents working together, Slease said.

Each group had planned to do some sort of activity for Earth Day; some began planning in January. Paul Myers, a Kent resident who has been involved in many community activities in the past, began working on combining the campus and community groups for a massive spring cleaning on Earth Day. Myers said events like these will build a stronger bond and relationship with Kent State students and the community.

Slease and Myers plan on organizing clean-up days, such as the one on Saturday, twice a year.

“Once before the snow, and once after the snow,” Slease said.

Students involved in the clean-up represented a wide variety of majors and programs.

Pam Daly, senior human development and family studies major, is the president of the Human Service Management Student Association. Daly said the collaboration of students and groups made the event more important and special.

The Human Service Management Student Association, a student group open to all majors, provides students with opportunities to provide community service and learn about careers in the non-profit sector. The student group has worked with UNICEF, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

Matt Haramis, who graduated last May from Kent State and now works for the AmeriCorps VISTA program, said Earth Day was an important day for students

to volunteer.

“We are the fosters of the Earth, and we need to make sure we take care of it for future generations,” Haramis said.

Delta Tau Delta became involved when Haramis talked to members of the fraternity’s philanthropy group. Sophomore photography major Max Recker said the group has been involved with Habitat for Humanity and is signed up for the Rely for Life this weekend.

“Earth Day is a great cause,” Recker said. “I wish more people would get involved.”

Contact College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Joe Harrington at [email protected].