Volunteers clean up in Kannapolis

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS — With rakes, shovels and trash bags, as well as other tools and smiles, hundreds of volunteers hit the streets in Kannapolis on Saturday for the sixth annual Kannapolis Kares Day.
“This is a positive event for the city of Kannapolis,” said Ed Hosack of Cooperative Christian Ministries.
This year, Kannapolis Kares Day was organized by CCM and the Kannapolis YMCA.
The event was started by the city as part of Kannapolis’ centennial celebration in 2006.
Hosack said 560 volunteers had registered for this year’s event.
Other groups that hadn’t registered still reported service projects during the day Saturday, he said.
Renee Goodnight, community outreach coordinator for the City of Kannapolis, said the local organizations had done a great job in stepping up to take charge of the event.
Hosack said the day’s success was because of the cooperation between businesses, the faith community and local organizations.
“It’s part of living in a small community, a community that reaches out to people,” Hosack said.
“There were a lot of young people, and it’s always encouraging to see young people coming out and getting engaged,” he said.
Many volunteers fanned out to pick up litter along city streets and beautify neighborhoods.
The Kannapolis Rotary Club volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, traveling to Concord after the original project in Kannapolis was scrubbed due to wet weather.
They helped paint and assist with renovations at a four-unit apartment building which will provide affordable housing.
First Presbyterian did construction work also, hanging sheetrock at a Cooperative Christian Ministries teaching house in north Kannapolis.
CCM’s teaching houses are part of a program that provides homeless families with housing and education to help reestablish themselves.
“The effort in Carver was probably the hallmark of the event,” Goodnight said.
Several organizations and local residents worked on cleanup and other projects throughout the Carver community, which has been a focal point of city efforts.
Recent work by the city to extend and repave Wood Avenue, providing another gateway into the Carver area, is part of the larger effort to revitalize the area.
“That’s just a tremendous effort that’s going on in that community,” Hosack said.
“Volunteers, church members and folks from nonprofits were out working alongside the people who live in the neighborhoods,” he said.
Volunteers on one cleanup crew collected five bags of recyclables and trash, returning it to Kannapolis Intermediate School for disposal.
“It’s awesome,” said Rob Knuschke, principal of Kannapolis Intermediate School.
Nearby, sixth-grader Silas Wertz and his father, Phil, helped a group of students and parents spread mulch around the bases of trees.
Others cleaned up flower beds and touched up paint on the school’s facade.
“I really like the school, and I want it to look as nice as it can,” Silas said. “We won’t get as many kids here if it doesn’t.”
In addition to the cleanup efforts, the school partnered with a nonprofit group run by former KIS teacher Wilmenia Gripper.
Gripper’s organization, 1,2,3 Jump, is a fitness education program.
When they weren’t cleaning or helping paint, kids were learning to jump rope, hula-hoop and otherwise play their way toward fitness.
Other projects were focused on helping the environment.
“The Charlotte Region has the 10th worst ozone out of 277 communities in the United States,” Goodnight said.
To combat this, for the second year, Catawba College’s Center for the Environment hosted a free gas cap check as part of Kannapolis Kares Day.
The check station was set up next to the Kannapolis Library.
Shirley Osborne drove into the parking lot by the Kannapolis branch library to have his pickup checked for possible fuel leaks.
Volunteer Rick Carter unscrewed the gas cap and put it on the end of a specialized tester, which looks like a bicycle air pump combined with a caulking gun.
No matter how much air he pumped, the tester’s needle never moved out of the red.
Osborne’s 1998 Chevrolet S-10 got a new gas cap, free of charge.
“It’ll probably save gas,” Osborne said.
Kellie McRorie got a new cap for her Ford Mustang, too.
“I had no idea it was leaking,” she said, holding her 2-year-old daughter, Kenlynn.
“Kenlynn has to breathe the air, too,” she said.
Between 7 and 11:30 a.m., volunteers had checked 77 cars and replaced 11 gas caps.
“We’re able to educate the public with these events,” said June McDowell of the Center for the Environment.
Not only that, but the replaced gas caps won’t leak fuel and fumes into the environment, making a small difference for the better in air quality.
Overall, Goodnight said the event was a sign that people in Kannapolis are glad to reach out and help their neighbors in their own corner of the city.
“Anytime you can get a large number of people from your community out on one day to try to improve the quality of life, it’s a success,” she said.
Contact Hugh Fisher via editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.