How can you make a real difference in Belmont, and still have lots of fun?
Hundreds of Belmont residents, of all ages, will join together on Monday, October 8 (Columbus Day) for the 4 th annual Belmont Serves day of community service.
“Belmont is community that values service to others. With a wide variety of projects for all ages and skill levels, Belmont Serves is both a festive occasion and the largest town-wide service event of the year”, stated John Robotham of the Belmont Religious Council, the sponsors of Belmont Serves.
All are invited to gather at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall (corner of Common and School Streets) at 8:15 am to register, have a light breakfast, and select a project. After a brief orientation, projects teams begin their work at locations all over the town. Everyone returns at 12:30 pm for pizza and ice cream, to celebrate a job well done. The event concludes at 1:00 pm, so volunteers can enjoy their afternoon time with friends and family.
Doug John, president of the Belmont Religious Council explains why he looks forward every year to Belmont Serves day.
“I like getting to make connections with fellow Belmontians of other faiths while
doing worthwhile service within our community. I believe building a stronger sense of community cooperation is important for our town. “
The Belmont Food Pantry relies on Belmont Serves day to completely restock their supplies for the fall. Over 1,400 bags of groceries were collected door-to-door across the entire town at last year’s event. This year, residents can also donate “gently used” children’s winter coats, scarves and gloves for
distribution through the Cradles to Crayons charitable organization.
Denise Kelly, the food/clothing project coordinator, has set even higher goals for this year.
“We are expanding to cover more areas of the town. Over 7,000 grocery bags are ready to be distributed door- to-door, with instructions stapled to them. Just leave a bag of non-perishable items on your doorstep on Monday morning, October 8 before 9:00 am. Donations of children’s winter clothing can also be left on your doorstep.”
The Garden Club organizes gardening projects at town rotaries and the green spaces around the town.
Other groups of volunteers enjoy working at the town’s conservation lands, clearing paths and cutting back invasive plants. Locations include Rock Meadow and Lone Tree Hill (former McLean property).
Ellen O'Brien Cushman, chair of Belmont’s Land Management Committee, explained how Belmont Serves benefits the town:
“We have certainly come to rely upon the energetic volunteers of ‘Belmont
Serves’ to help us to maintain the 100 acres of property, from picking up trash to cutting back bittersweet vines and understory growth; the assistance is invaluable. We welcome adults as well as families with children to our team. ‘Belmont Serves’ opens this majestic property to more of our residents and we have strong hopes they will return to wander the trails and assist in its stewardship.”
New this year is an outdoor project at Burbank School, in cooperation with the Burbank School's Landscape Committee and Green Team. A team will do raking, gardening and preparing the organic garden for the coming winter months. Returning for another year will be a fence painting project at one of the town fields.
And at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall, all participants can make home-made greeting cards for distribution to military personnel serving overseas. Over a hundred heart-warming cards were made last year, which are distributed through Operation American Soldier. There will also be sign-up sheets for those willing to lend a helping hand to our senior citizens at other times of the year, coordinated through the Belmont Council on Aging.
Deb Lockett, BRC vice-president, emphasizes the cooperative and fun-loving spirit shown by Belmont Serves volunteers.
"Belmont Serves Day provides all community members an opportunity to contribute their time to worthwhile causes right here at home. Parents get a chance to work alongside their children, neighbor with neighbor, children and teens with senior citizens. Ours is an outstanding example of how people of different faiths, backgrounds and generations gather together to work for the common good while having a boat-load of fun."
Belmont Serves has become a town tradition, with “enthusiastic” endorsements from the Board of Selectmen, Belmont School Department, and other community organizations.
While the event is free and open to all, a suggested donation of $5 per adult will help defray the costs of food and related items. Additional information and on-line registration are available at the Belmont Serves web site