On Saturday, volunteers will come together for the second annual Keep Antioch Beautiful Day, held in various parks and schools throughout the city. The event runs from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at Almond Ridge Park, Antioch City Hall, Antioch High School, Bidwell Elementary, Belshaw Elementary, Carmen Dragon Elementary, Dallas Ranch Middle School, Diablo Vista Elementary, Hillcrest Park, Jack London Elementary, John Muir Elementary, Mission Elementary, Park Middle School and the Red Caboose Restaurant.
After the bags of trash have been collected, one of the sponsors, Honeywell, will host a free barbecue lunch for volunteers from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Contra Loma Reservoir Regional Park.
“It’s just a great opportunity to get out in the sun and give back to the community,” said Diane Gibson-Gray, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Foundation of Antioch and an organizer of the event. “I think everybody is so aware of limited funding for cities, schools, whatever, so they’re willing to pick up the task and go out there and do it with family and friends.”
Last year, more than 900 people participated in the event, but that was largely because of the Disney “Give a Day, Get a Day,” promotion, which gave children a free ticket to Disneyland for volunteering.
This year, however, there’s no such giveaway, so sign-ups have lagged a bit. According to Gibson-Gray, about 115 people have volunteered, but more are signing up every day. Organizers are doing whatever they can to get the word out. Parsons said she’s hoping for at least half of last year’s total.
“We have more places, so we’ll cover more of the city,” Parsons said. “The sign-ups are down, but there’s still a lot of people that want to help the city, so I’m looking forward to a good day on Saturday.”
Gibson-Gray noted that last year, people from all over, not just Antioch, came out to help. A family from Salinas, in Central California, with ties to Antioch, drove up last year to help out. She’s crossing her fingers that word of the event will spread, drawing volunteers from all over East County and beyond.
“Everybody’s got to do something to help ourselves and each other,” Gibson-Gray said.
Parsons and Gibson-Gray said they hope to tap into the growing volunteer spirit that is flowing throughout the city. Much like last year, Parsons has been working with several local businesses to sponsor the event.
Some teachers in Antioch schools have been encouraging students to come out for this year’s event by making it a community-service project for their classes. Parsons hopes this will spread the word among youth and encourage them to keep giving back to the community.
“Once you teach a child about community service, it becomes a lifelong thing that they do,” Parsons said. “Not necessarily cleaning the streets, but it might be working in a library or dedicating themselves to working at a hospital. They get the idea at an early age that giving back feels good.”
To register for the event, visit www.art4antioch.org/keep-antioch-beautiful-2011.asp.