The third annual Great Days of Service in Bonham was a indeed a great day, by all accounts. Organizers estimate at least 400 people and 30 partner organizations participated, which is more than in previous years.
First United Methodist Church members got an early start on Saturday morning, cooking up pancakes and sausage for volunteers to eat after they checked in at the Family Life Center. The gym was packed by 9 am as Great Days of Service Coordinator Sandy Barber welcomed everyone.
Community Clean-up volunteers picked up at least 200 bags of trash and leaves at numerous public locations and streets around town. Volunteers donned bright orange vests and headed out to Simpson Park, Catron Park, Powder Creek Park, Bailey Inglish Cemetery, downtown square, Ft Inglish/ Trades Day grounds, softball field, football stadium, baseball fields, tennis courts and ball fields. Kelly Royse and Barber were team leaders for this effort, with Glenn Taylor leading the effort to pick up all of the filled bags.
The Home Improvement Team, lead by Randy and Kassi Bowen, did work at two homes this year. At one home, volunteers built a 30 ft wheelchair ramp. First Baptist, First United Methodist Church, Bonham Building Supply and some anonymous donors contributed the funds needed to purchase the lumber and other supplies needed to build the ramp. A second home got a new front door lock installed in order to give the family a new sense of safety and security.
Team leaders of the Food Drive were Megan Massey and Mary Jane Neal. Food drives were held in the weeks leading up to Oct 19 at all of the Bonham ISD schools, Morning Star Academy, Brookshire’s and several local churches. Boys Scouts and other volunteers conducted neighborhood food drives. On Saturday morning, about 100 volunteers quickly organized food by types and then divided the food evenly into five groups. Food was then loaded up in trucks and trailers and delivered to five organizations that feed hungry people. Volunteers caravanned to some of the locations to help unload the food too. Food was given to Fannin County Community Ministries, Basic Food Pantry, Manna House, Boyd Baptist and the Fannin County Family Crisis Center. Community Ministries was able to weigh the food they received and discovered they received 1,916 lbs of food. Since each group got an equal amount of food, organizers estimate that about 4.5 to 5 tons of food was collected, sorted and distributed this year, which is more than in previous years.
Nursing home visits were organized by Dana Abbott. Volunteers were split up into teams and went to 6 nursing homes or other facilities, including Hofmann MRAZ, Seven Oaks, Bonham Nursing Center, The Woodmoore Assisted Living, Clyde Cosper Veterans Home and Veterans Hospital. Some volunteers sang or danced for residents and others brought games and books and visited with residents.
The Bonham Fire Department led the effort to paint house numbers on curbs in order to aide emergency workers in identifying homes quickly. Volunteers painted numbers on the curbs of 29 homes. Fire fighters also installed free smoke detectors at 5 homes.
“It was an amazing day,” said Barber. “It was so exciting to see so many people and groups come together to improve our town and help neighbors in need.”
Great Days of Service leaders will now turn their attention to raising additional funds, recruiting volunteers and lining up the tools and materials needed to build a playground at Powder Creek Park. Build days are set for March 12-16, 2014. “We are hopeful that families will plan trips for the first part of Spring Break and plan to be home by Wednesday or Thursday to help us build this unique playground during the last part of their break,” said Barber. Volunteers will be needed to build the playground, as well as provide food and child care for volunteers.