Monday, September 10, 2012
It was a beautiful day in South Jersey today - one of those early fall days (even though it's not officially fall yet!), where the temperature cools off despite the sunny, blue skies. On such a nice day, I wanted to find an act of kindness that I could do outdoors, so I decided it would be a good day to go back to a playground for some trash pickup. I chose a great community playground we have in Moorestown called Fullerton Park.
I grabbed a plastic trash bag and a pair of gloves and headed over to the park. It was late afternoon/early evening and the park was peaceful with a handful of mostly mothers watching their small children play on the different equipment. I quietly walked around the entire park picking up small pieces of garbage wherever I saw any. The park does have lots of garbage cans and recycling containers and they generally seemed to be used so the park was definitely not filled with litter. And yet, when you go looking for it, you see plenty of it everywhere. I think the most common thing I found was plastic wrappers from juice boxes and straws. For some reason, these somehow don't seem to make it into the garbage cans. I'm not sure what people thought who saw me picking up trash - perhaps they figured I was working off a community service sentence?! In any event, I didn't mind at all, as it was just a beautiful day to be outside doing something useful.
This particular park is one of my favorite sites because it was a park built entirely by volunteers in a sort of Amish barn-building kind of 5-day effort. It's actually the second time it was built - both times all done by volunteers. I was a key leader in the process the first time (1992) and it remains the most satisfying community activity in which I've ever been a part. The park was rebuilt (due to some new safety issues) just last year and I did spend a little time there helping out, though it was mostly a new generation of young parents who played pivotal roles this time.
I'll never forget the sense of community I felt when literally hundreds of people worked together day and night, eating their meals together, laughing and sweating together, and enjoying each other's company for the sake of our children. Being at the park is always a reminder of that feeling for me.