LYNNWOOD — It was cold and wet, and the minutes tracked by one shovelful at a time.
But by the time two hours had passed, the middle-schoolers who came to Lynndale Park to spread gravel on walkways were wearing smiles in addition to raindrops.
“I was really proud of them,” said Cheryl Wilson, who oversaw the C U LEAD group during the Make a Difference Day event Saturday.
The seven students were among a total of 52 volunteers who showed up to help spruce up Lynndale Park. Two Girl Scouts troops, the Cascade Orienteering Club, city leaders and other volunteers also pitched in.
Make a Difference Day is a national “day of doing good.” City parks departments frequently benefit from the willing volunteers who use the day as a chance to give back to their communities. This was the city of Lynnwood’s first time heading up an effort.
At Lynndale Park, volunteers also helped spread new wood chips around playground equipment and removed blackberry bushes along trails. Food and beverage donations from local businesses — Starbucks on 196th Street, Ivar’s and Jersey Mike’s Subs — helped warm volunteers afterward.
The city parks department also saw a large group of volunteers tidy areas of Gold Park. Over two days, 58 volunteers there removed invasive species and helped clean up the park.
That effort was organized by the Learn and Serve Environmental Anthropology Field School of Edmonds and Everett community colleges, along with the Snohomish Tribe of Indians, REI, Ivar’s and the city of Lynnwood.
A “blackberry brigade” of 10 volunteers from Cascade Orienteering Club also was on hand at Lynndale Park where the club often holds its detailed mapping quests during the year. In fact, many of the volunteers went home to get dry, then came back to the park that night for a Halloween-themed “Vampire Orienteering” — and got wet again.
“As orienteers, we hate blackberries,” said Jim Siscel, of Lynnwood, the club’s immediate past president.
Siscel said the group came together at the last minute to participate and he was happy to see a good turnout that included beginners as well as experienced orienteers.
“They recognize the value of what the city of Lynnwood has given us to use the park and the facilities — it’s payback,” he said.
As a retired educator, Siscel said he also was happy to see so many young people take part.
C US LEAD is facilitated by the Edmonds Education Association and includes students from Alderwood and Meadowdale middle schools. The group each year takes civic classes through the city’s Lynnwood University program, takes field trips to the Denney Juvenile Justice Center and the University of Washington Seattle campus and performs a variety of service projects on their own and as a group.
The kids choose the projects to take on, said Wilson, an office manager for the teachers union who volunteers her time to help guide the group.
“At first they looked at those piles of gravel and they said, ‘We’re doing that?’ It took the first pile to get a momentum, a groove going. But by the second pile it was boom, boom, boom. … There wasn’t a lot of talking. They were working hard. … I couldn’t believe all the smiles on their faces at the end.”
The city of Lynnwood welcomes groups of volunteers to help with park clean-ups throughout the year.
Contact Julie Moore, the city’s community outreach specialist, at 425-670-5023 or email@example.com.