May 7 marks the 10th year of in-person community service projects for KARE for Kane. Technically, this year is the 11th year but COVID-19 made any kind of large-group event a no-go in 2020. Therefore, this year is a time for celebration — and, of course, a continuation of the success of the event.
“One of the bigger projects this year is at the little league field. We are teaming up with the little league to get those three fields prepped for the season,” Kane Mayor Brandy Schimp said.
She explained that the to-do list includes mulching areas, the installation of new foul posts and other tasks for that goal.
“It’s taking a lot of manpower, and that’s exciting,” explained Kate Kennedy, executive director of Kane Area Development Center.
“It started simple, and we still try to keep it simple. We just expand the projects we do and the people we get involved,” Schimp said. She noted that one year, a total of 600 volunteers teamed up to make Kane look better for the warmer season ahead.
Residents of all ages volunteer their time for the event. Local businesses pay their employees for the day while allowing them to leave work to participate in KARE for Kane. Zook Motors and Northwest Bank are two such examples.
Kennedy noted, “One of the really cool things about KARE for Kane, is that it spans all ages, the school district is allowing students to be released for the day to do the project.”
She noted that around 30 National Honor Society members will be heading to the little league field to help wherever needed with that project.
“The School District is phenomenal about letting the kids participate,” Schimp said. “We have day care age through 12th grade participating this year, not every entire grade but they are represented in there somewhere, between student council and other groups. We do have a couple whole grades participating. It’s a good mix, the district is very supportive.
“One of the most rewarding things is to see kids come back. (KARE) is held when they are coming home from college, and they sign up again as young adults,” Schimp continued. “It is pretty exciting to see them interested, and that it’s not just a day out of school for them. They care, they come back and give their time.”
The day begins early, with the Kane Fire Department hosing off the winter debris from area streets around 5:30 a.m. Donations of money and equipment are provided by area businesses that are unable to provide volunteers.
“So many donations in that in-kind type of way is what makes it possible to do everything we do,” Kennedy said.
Then, any number of projects can be on tap.
“One of the past projects we are really happy with is Southover Park, where the Officer Steve Jerman Memorial Trail is. Several years ago, several groups including Kane Borough police and Pennsylvania State Police, and students, worked to clear a trail that connects from the park to elementary/middle school. They have kept up maintenance down there as well. There has been work at the gazebo at the park, cleanup of ditches and drainage in the park to alleviate issues.”
Kennedy explained that painting projects are an item commonly on the list for KARE for Kane.
“Personally, I know that the Chamber office needed painted, and we had adults there a couple of years ago to do that,” she said.
Schimp explained that there are also projects to be done indoors, including helping out the library and various churches if they are in need.
Litter pickup is a task that is necessary every year, and this is accomplished with donations of gloves, garbage bags and orange vests from Keep PA Beautiful.
“Donations come from all over; private individuals, businesses. One donation that occurs year after year is that the Kane Rotary pays for lunch for all volunteers,” Schimp said. “We typically do a community lunch at the community center. This year, we are delivering to sites, so we can maintain social distance and keep people outdoors.”
Kennedy added, “We are trying to use all precautions that we can,” She noted that this year’s ability to get out and tackle some projects is a welcome change from last year.
“We are really hopeful next year can be a lot more social again,” Kennedy said.
Anyone interested in volunteering can still sign up to help, including as a walk-in the day of the event. For those who find they have time free on May 7, they can call the Chamber office, where the event is based this year, at 837-6565 or stop in.
“I feel this is one thing that makes Kane really special — the annual whole community effort for people to pitch in and make our town look great. It’s wonderful that so many people care that much to get involved. There is not one group driving it; the community has owned it and is excited about being part of it,” Kennedy said.