The transformation is about to happen. In fact, it's already started, despite the onslaught of late-season snowstorms.
The birds have announced it in song as they busily prepare their nests. Snippets of green are poking through the brown ground. And the sun has regained its warm glow.
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Spring is a time of revival. It's the same spirit that drove the Fox Valley Park District to create its annual Spring Spruce-Up event five years ago. It's the district's biggest volunteer event of the year, and it brings communities together in the name of common good -- beautifying the local parks and trails we share and enjoy.
This year's event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 20, at six different park sites. Volunteers of all ages are welcome to join in for a fun and meaningful morning outdoors. It's a perfect precursor to Earth Day in that we'll be taking care of our little corner of the planet and making it better in a small yet significant way.
Each volunteer taking part in Spring Spruce-Up will be placed at a designated park site of their choosing -- most prefer one close to home -- and be joined by park district staff. Together, the groups will give their site a makeover involving litter cleanup, raking and other touches to make our parks and trails shine.
All volunteers will receive a complimentary snack, bottle of water and a special park district gift.
"Spring Spruce-Up is a great event for people to come together and give back to their community -- right in their own neighborhoods," said Debbie Smith, community outreach manager for the park district and lead organizer for Spring Spruce-Up. "It's also a good opportunity for children to learn about volunteering and what a difference it can make."
Begun in 2009, Spring Spruce-Up has had as many as 600 volunteers show up for service. Scout groups, church groups, students and neighbors have all joined in and given back to their neighborhoods and communities.
"Our volunteers take great pride in their parks," said Smith. "People often feel a sense of ownership, and keeping local parks clean is a reflection of the residents who live around those parks."
The six park/trail sites selected were spaced geographically throughout the District so no volunteer will have to travel far to help make a difference. The sites are:
• Gilman Trail / Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora
• Indian Creek Park, Molitor and Selmarten roads, Aurora
• North Aurora Island Park, State Street Bridge, North Aurora
• Spring Lake Park, McCoy Drive and Gregory Street, Aurora
• South Island Park, Ashland Avenue and Route 25, Aurora
• Waubonsie Lake Park, Montgomery and Kautz roads, Aurora
A few hours on a Saturday morning -- a volunteer party in the park -- will make a big difference with lasting effects that go well beyond a simple cleanup.
• Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Interested volunteers can contact Debbie Smith at (630) 966-4555 to register for Spring Spruce-Up.