With Earth Day falling on April 22 this year, more than 450 locals got a head start in the Thread City Saturday [April 17], and braved chilly, damp weather to clean up the community for the third annual Town Wide/Town Pride Day.
“We’re making it fun,” said Nicole Letourneau, of Warwick, R.I., who is captain of the Eastern Connecticut State University cheerleading team.
This was the first time for Letourneau and 14 of her teammates to take in the annual event that when volunteers from ESCU and Windham beautify the grounds of various churches, parks, nonprofit organizations and businesses across town.
The event is hosted by ECSU and was previously known as “Eastern Hits the Streets” before it was turned into a larger community event in 2008.
The cheerleaders were assigned to clean up a spot the town will eventually turn into a park a short distance behind the Windham regional Chamber of Commerce on Bridge Street.
The team participates in numerous community service events throughout the year.
“We’re big on community service and big on giving back to the school,” Letourneau said.
The girls also participated in Toys for Tots, Take Back the Night (an event that raises awareness of sexual assault and abuse), and various bottle and can drives for charity.
To keep their energy up, team was told to create a cheer every hour they worked.
“I think just because we’re cheerleaders, it’s kind of expected,” said Alissa Savage, a freshman cheerleader on the squad.
A short distance from this team, the American Marketing Association was landscaping outside the Chamber of Commerce building. This group also makes community service a priority. Town Wide/Town Pride has become an annual event for them.
“We’re trying to give this town a facelift,” said Gian Dennies of Stamford, a member of the American Marketing Association who has participated in the event for three years.
Dennies’ group raised more than $600 for breast cancer research this year by selling pink ribbons and pink cupcakes at its “Think Pink” event.
“It was rewarding to see our hard work pay off,” said Chelsea Stepensky of Kensington, the group’s vice president of community service.
Saturday’s event culminated with an indoor picnic in the Windham Town hall auditorium and included a performance by Artists Against Addiction, Hunger and Homelessness (AAAHH).
Volunteers refreshed themselves with drinks and food donated by Hosmer Mountain Soda, Main St. Café, Fred’s Pizza, Tony’s Pizza and Pappa’s Pizza.
Another participant on Saturday was “Hope for the Homeless,” a group formed as a social-action project by three women as part of their senior seminar class at Eastern, a requirement for sociology majors.
The purpose of the group is to educate people about homelessness, and members are raising money and collecting items for shelters.
Group member Michelle Gagne of Groton published a put up a request on Craigslist for items. One woman donated a lot of baby clothes and furniture.
“She was my age too, which is really great to see,” Gagne said. “That was incredible.”
Posted April 21, 2010 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan