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More MS news articles for May 2003

Orem Blitz descending on neighborhood

Saturday, May 17, 2003
Justin Hill
The Daily Herald

For almost 30 years, in the back corner of Orem resident Dick Danner's neatly manicured lawn, three sheds have gradually filled with enough junk that it would have taken his family years to remove it all.

On Monday, about 15 volunteers arrived at Danner's home, tore down the sheds and hauled away all the miscellaneous stuff stored in the structures.

"It was an eyesore, believe me," said Danner, 78, who lost his legs due to diabetes and multiple sclerosis starting 17 years ago. "You can't image how great it was to have them come in here."

The Danner residence was the first project for Orem's annual Blitz, a neighborhood cleanup program that began eight years ago. For the past week, volunteers have painted, pruned, cleaned and repaired yards and homes in the city's Hillcrest Neighborhood. Today the event begins in earnest with 550 volunteers expected to sweep into the neighborhood and tackle 34 other projects.

As of Friday, 450 people had registered, and beginning at 8 a.m., volunteers can sign up at the Blitz's headquarters at Hillcrest Park, 1400 S. 650 East.

"It's an opportunity for us to get together as a community with the youth groups, with people outside of our city and just provide acts of service," said Orem Mayor Jerry Washburn, who will be among the volunteers on Saturday. "I really love participating. It's really fun."

Hillcrest was selected as the site for this year's Blitz because it was next on the list of neighborhoods chosen for the event. City officials then sent out applications to all the homeowners in the neighborhood and 45 requests for help were returned. Then Cody Fowler, Orem volunteer coordinator who heads the Blitz, met with the applicants to determine the need of the projects and to see if it was viable.

"A lot of people who responded were elderly or widows," Fowler said. "Due to illness and someone passing away, they just couldn't keep on top of it anymore."

Slowly a corps of volunteers began registering with city officials, starting in February. They come from church groups, Girl Scout troops, employees of local businesses and other groups. Some volunteers don't even live in Orem.

"It's neat to see the fruits of their labors," said Angie Beachley, 30, of Orem, who volunteered at the project at Danner's house and plans on working Saturday. "You're doing something good for someone else."

Danner was glad the volunteers did something good for him. Now Danner plans on extending his lovely lawn into the area where the old sheds housed his junk.

"They knocked it all down and hauled it off in an hour-and-a-half," Danner said.

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