200 rake, haul and plant to grow a better world

October 25, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

It was organized chaos.

Grown men huffing and puffing as they pushed wheelbarrows full of mulch up a trail at Centennial Park. Small boys flailing rakes and shovels at anything in their path.

One child stood apart, arms akimbo, looking disgusted.

"Why don't you just borrow the other fellow's rake?" an adult asked him.

"Watch your head!" the adult shouted. A dozen rake handles were pushed in the child's direction.

"My arms are tired," said one of the young rakers. "I've never seen so much mulch."

The children and adults were among more than 200 people taking part yesterday in the county's fourth annual community service day, sharing activities from Lake Elkhorn to Lisbon.

"We don't have to recruit," said Kathleen Sloan, a Howard County government employee responsible for coordinating the day's activities. "On service day, most of the activities involve children."

At Lake Elkhorn, the children were eager to show Ms. Sloan treasures they had found among trash they picked up. Ms. Sloan gave each child and adult a T-shirt that read, "We came Shining Through. Howard County Community Service Day."

One child asked if he might have one for his grandmother, in town on a visit. Ms. Sloan couldn't resist. She gave the child an extra shirt.

On the north side of Centennial Park off Old Annapolis Road, Meredith Traber, 13, Rebecca Longstreth, 14, and Emily Kita, 14, took a break to sip sodas on the curb while Rebecca's brother, 11-year-old Eddie, filled a wheelbarrow full of peat moss.

Eddie didn't seem to mind. "Last night, I was thinking that I have nothing to do today, so I asked if I could come out," he said.

Although only the four children participated in this particular project, Eddie and the girls had nearly finished spreading the peat over an entire hillside. "It's hard work, but it's a lot easier with a fork," Eddie said.

"Please don't fill it up any more," Rebecca said, her peat basket three-quarters full. She was carrying it by hand to the flower bed.

"It will build up those muscles," Meredith said, laughing.

"Meredith's a basketball player" looking to build her strength, Ms. Sloan said. "I'll put in a good word for you with the coach."

It was an inside joke. Meredith is trying out for the junior varsity squad at Hammond High School, where Ms. Sloan was an assistant coach last year.

Ms. Sloan also kidded Emily about her fingernails as Emily patted peat mulch around bedding plants and pulled weeds.

"She's a cheerleader," Ms. Sloan said. "But she doesn't care about getting her nails dirty."

Emily smiled weakly.

At the Therapeutic and Recreational Riding Center in Lisbon, fourth-grade Girl Scouts got lessons on how to groom and feed horses. They were also taught how to use safety sidewalks to guide horses ridden by children with disabilities.

"It's fun, but it smells," one child said.

"I led a horse, helped give it hay and water and just finished grooming a horse," said Tory Lancaster, 9.

"When I led the horse [ridden by a disabled child], it made me feel special. That was the most fun -- helping people in need."

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