Overwhelming Response to Neighbor-Helping-Neighbor Event Makes for a Feel-Good Kind of Day

Volunteers come out in droves to help with brush removal.

After assembling at 8 a.m. for their safety instructions and work assignments, an impressive number of Tolland residents set off for a day of hard work in an effort to help seniors and disabled townsfolk clean up debris left over by October’s Nor’easter, Storm Alfred. In the spirit of volunteerism and community pride, the early-morning estimate of participants was gauged at 170, which was about 60 to 70 more than had originally signed up.

Director of Administrative Services Mike Wilkinson, who had his hands full at the high school’s staging area, said he was pleased by the turn out. Ken Hankinson of the Tolland Conservation Corp was also quite busy, directing traffic in and out of the debris drop-off area at Cross Farms. “It’s a great turn out and a beautiful day,” he said. Both men, plus many others, were responsible for the well-orchestrated clean-up event.

Tolland has a history of helping others during times of need, and the town’s call for able-bodied individuals, which included Scouts, clubs, families and many other individuals, certainly proved that.

“Tolland has a lot of volunteerism,” said resident Bill Sprout, who wasn’t surprised by the large turn-out. He compared today’s turn-out to Scouting programs in Tolland. “The amount of leaders and sign-ups for [Scout] camp-outs and events is amazing,” he said. As Sprout sawed branches and filled his trailer, Mark Schmidt and his sons Paul and Peter, both Eagle Scouts, were hard at work filling theirs. Both groups had Scouting obligations later in the day, but made sure they participated in Neighbor-Helping-Neighbor Day first.

“I’d like to see the town do more of this… to teach our kids to volunteer,” noted the elder Schmidt.

Randall Dutton and his wife were also up bright and early doing their part on Sage Meadow Road. “I think everyone should help out in the community,” said Lisa Dutton. “I want to model for my kids, so they help out one day, too.”

According to Tolland officials, many communities have had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to have this sort of collection handled by outside contractors. Through community spirit, Tolland residents have answered the call and in doing so have provided a valuable service, which will ultimately save the town a substantial amount of money, as well as put a smile on the faces of many who could not have done the job on their own.

Josh Freeman November 27, 2011 at 01:12 PM
This was such a great event! Thanks to the town staff for organizing the volunteers, and thanks to all who came out to make the day so successful. Also, thanks to Dunkin Donuts and the Lions Club for the food before and after the cleanup. It's really great to live in a town that values this type of service and comes together to help those in need! I'm thinking a day of service like this could be a cool new town tradition...what do you think?
lisa thibodeau November 27, 2011 at 01:52 PM
What an awesome day!!!!! had a lot fun and it felt good helping out the local people! Residents were soo appreciative and friendly and kind!!! High five to all of the great kids and leaders I worked with in Boy scouts troop 2
Jan Rubino November 27, 2011 at 03:51 PM
I would love to see this as an annual event. Neighbors helping Neighbors is a win-win for everyone; it serves those in need, and is a great way to meet new friends in addition to all that it teaches our children about community. Thanks again to all who participated!
Mark Schmidt November 27, 2011 at 03:51 PM
This was such a great all around experience to help those in need. The home owners were so grateful to have all this help. It was nice to have this opportunity to meet other people from town that otherwise you might not have. Most importantly rather than telling out children about service we had the opportunity to show them and in some cases include them. This is why you move to small town New England, not to just live in a town but be part of a community. Thank you to everyone involved for organizing this event. It was a huge undertaking that was very much appreciated by all. My only request would be let’s not let this spirit die. As a community wouldn’t it be nice to hold an event like this once a month or quarter. Lets assist the town in cleaning our parks, trails, school grounds,… Lets keep “Neighbor-Helping-Neighbor” alive.


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