- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 29, 2002

Hundreds of volunteers gathered on the shores of the Anacostia River early yesterday to lend a hand on the ninth annual Public National Lands Day, one of the largest volunteer activities in the country.
The volunteers about 450 adults and children, according to one of the coordinators cleared brush and debris, planted trees, removed trash, built trails and mulched flower beds at four sites: the Old Capitol Pump House, Kingman Island, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the Urban Tree House on the grounds of Anacostia Park in Southeast.
"This is a national effort; volunteers have an opportunity to help the National Park Service maintain our national parks," said Supervisory Park Ranger Lawrence Burgess, who is charged with managing the 1,200-acre Anacostia Park. "This is the host park, and when you talk about green space, this is the largest green space in the metropolitan area."
Mr. Burgess, 53, beamed as he watched children take pride in the cleanup. He said that planning the event took eight months and involved numerous agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, National Environment Education and Training Foundation, and Earth Conservation Corps.
On a bright and cloudless day with temperatures in the upper 60s, pint-size Dameion Hunt, 7, performed a man-size job with shovel in hand at Anacostia Park. The youngster worked nonstop with volunteer crews from the National Tree Trust planting a variety of trees such as green ash, black gum, dogwood and several types of oak trees.
Dameion gave his own reasons for planting trees. "I really like digging the holes and planting trees because I like to climb them," he said before running off to help with another project. He was joined by students from the Patricia Roberts Harris School in Southeast and Miner Elementary School in Northeast. The students buzzed around like busy worker bees to make sure they left their mark on the park.
Julian Blakeney, 10, and Gregory Foster, 11, were a dynamic duo during the cleanup. The two fifth-graders from the Harris School moved wheelbarrows of soil to wherever it was needed.
"I think everybody should give back to the community. That's why I gave up my Saturday," Julian said. "For most of the day, I have been planting trees and putting mulch around them. I come to the park to play or to swim in the pool, and I felt it was my responsibility to help out. Everybody should have a beautiful place to go and to relax."
Laura Hawpe, 26, planted trees and spread mulch throughout much of the day. Ms. Hawpe was a volunteer and representative of the National Tree Trust, which is based in the District. She said her organization supplied 75 trees to beautify the four sites along the Anacostia.
"These trees will grow and provide shade; they will help to slow down the wind and make everything more beautiful. We're trying to work with more groups in the metropolitan area to get more trees planted," she said.
Danny Engelberg, 29, got on his knees and pulled weeds around shubbery. Earlier in the day, he, too, planted several of the 20 trees earmarked for the Anacostia Park. Mr. Engelberg, a member of the Student Conservation Association, a national organization with offices in the District, said, "I came out to be inspired by the young people who are out here volunteering.
"If they could come out, I could support their efforts since they are taking pride in their community."
"It's not your typical stereotype of teenagers; they want to make a difference if they're given an opportunity," said Mr. Engelberg, a first-year law student at Georgetown University.
Jermarh Adams, 17, said he volunteered the majority of his day off from school to make a difference and beautify a national treasure. Jermarh, a senior at Eastern High School in Northeast, said he often finds himself with time to spare but that that wasn't true yesterday. He joked that he didn't think he had a green thumb, but by noon yesterday, he was getting the hang of it.
"My little brother volunteered, and he said it was fun," Jermarh said. "And I needed to do my community service project. So I thought I'd come out today and volunteer. I have visited Anacostia Park before, and I believe the cleanup effort will make more people want to visit the park, especially if it is well maintained and beautiful."


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