JEFFERSON — While some cities across the nation have been trashed by residents recently, a Jefferson ISD student spent her Wednesday morning helping to clean up her city with the aid of her father.
Community improvement projects are nothing new for Jefferson ISD fourth grader Ella Godfrey who, with the help and direction of her father and Jefferson ISD trustee Kevin Godfrey, first began to refurbish the Mary Lou Glass Park and Fitness Trail near Jefferson Junior High School this spring. Now, the duo have added the clean up of Martin Luther King Drive in Jefferson to her summer list.
“We chose that spot because I was riding my bike and my dad was running and we went past there and saw all the trash everywhere,” Ella said Wednesday. “We looked at each other and said, ‘We have to fix this.’”
Ella and Kevin quickly set up a Facebook event for a clean up to see if they could get some volunteers to help them but their first clean up effort on MLK Wednesday was made up of just themselves.
“It was just us two today but we did have another Jefferson resident, Laura Goldman, bring us water and the city of Jefferson provided the large city trash bags for us to use and then they collected the bags to haul them off for us,” Kevin said.
The father and daughter started their efforts on the worst part of MLK Drive on Wednesday where trash was piled up in large amounts near the rail road tracks.
“Three of our four schools actually run along MLK Drive, where it begins near the primary campus, goes past the elementary and then ends when you get up to the administration building and high school,” Kevin said. “We’d like to start at one end of MLK Drive and work our way to the other end of it picking up trash but that will take a few more volunteers and days.”
The pair have also picked out a couple of other back roads that need trash pickup once they’ve taken care of MLK Drive.
Kevin said they managed to pick up about three to four hundred pounds of trash on Wednesday and the before and after photos prove their hard work.
“With all the turmoil going on recently, I think it’s important for us to come together and show the community that we can work together. People don’t have to join our projects but they could start their own projects to better the community.”
Kevin said not only do the projects allow him and Ella father daughter time but it also serves as a life lesson for his daughter.
“She’s learning a lot from the projects we do — learning right and wrong and we always talk while we work about what we’re doing and why,” Kevin said. “I think it’s important to get outside with your children, get some exercise and we’re just hoping someone gets inspired to do the same.”
Ella and Kevin have almost completed their first project which was to refurbish an overgrown and dilapidated old fitness trail they discovered that runs alongside the Jefferson Junior High School.
The Mary Lou Glass Park and Fitness Trail now has benches in shaded areas along the trail and will soon have exercise equipment in spots along the trail.
“One of my fellow trustees J.P. Abernathy came and cleared a lot of the vegetation and brush from the trail so the trail is open for use,” Kevin said. “We have one section of the trail that is missing and another spot with a big hole so we have sought bids to have that replaced. About half of the trail is in perfect shape, another 30 percent is usable, about 20 percent is damaged and needs to be replaced and another 10 percent is missing and needs to be replaced.”
Kevin and Ella started an online fundraiser to raise funds to replace the missing and damaged parts of the trail, purchase benches and exercise equipment. The four benches have been purchased and placed and the exercise equipment has been purchased and should be installed before school starts in August.
“I’m trying to instill in Ella pride in her community,” Kevin said.
To follow the updates on the pair’s efforts to refurbish the trail and to learn about upcoming trash pick up days and work days, follow their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/597588021106527/
To donate to the refurbishment of the fitness trail, visit their fundraiser page at www.facebook.com.