2018-04-15 / News

STC beautification day to celebrate 44 years

By Mandilee Hecht
Staff Reporter

File Photo by Jeanne Marcello File Photo by Jeanne Marcello ST. CHARLES – The community of St. Charles is making plans for the 44th Annual St. Charles Beautification Day. It is currently accepting donations or help from those willing to adopt a garden for the summer and fall. This year’s event has been set for Friday, May 18. Organizers stated this year the hope is to make it a year of strengthening and improving the foundation of the program but to also make it a year for growth.

The beautification committee received special donations this year that will allow the planting of a pollinator garden as well as other items that will used to enhance the community.

Janee Gerding is the head of the beautification day committee this year. The St. Charles biology teacher said the committee received multiple pallets of paving stones as a donation from Home Depot as well as a few dozen yellow rose bushes from a donation in memory of family members.

“We will be incorporating these into a pollinator garden this year, which will be the beginning of a new project for us that we plan to expand over the coming years.,” she said.

“John Dusek at Faber’s Greenhouse and Floral is a wealth of information about pollinators and has terrific project ideas for how to build pollinator friendly spaces in urban and suburban areas to promote pollinator populations. Additionally, we have gotten numerous donations through some of our academic programs at the school to complete projects to assist in beautification efforts,” she said. “Our environmental biology class received equipment to set up hydroponic apparatus and a vermiculture unit, which uses worms to digest paper waste to produce rich organic humus for some of the sites. Our woodworking classes have built birdhouses, which our art students will paint, that will be placed in the park this year. The botany class grows all of the annual plants that are planted at the worksites and was able to expand that a bit this year with the donation of some indoor seed starting equipment to supplement our greenhouse space. By getting the students involved before the day ever happens, we hope to really build the sense of community pride that comes with this project.”

No big changes are on the forefront of this year’s beautification day, though Gerding said the day will start a little earlier in order to take advantage of work time.

Volunteers will meet 15 minutes earlier at 7:45 a.m. this year in the high school gym for the annual introduction video that showcases highlights of previous year’s work. After the video volunteers disperse to their designated work areas. Workers will spend the day beautifying school grounds, parks, and establishments in the area by raking leaves, pulling weeds and planting flowers in and around St. Charles, Brant and Swan Creek Township.

Though the majority of volunteers is comprised of St. Charles High School students a variety of volunteers also step forward to share their time and expertise.

“The high school students are the bulk of our workers, but we also get dozens of other volunteers who help supervise and teach at the work sites. We get Master Gardeners, parents and alumni, and a variety of volunteers with experience in various trades who help us tackle some of the special projects. In addition, we have a very supportive village government that helps by dedicating time and resources towards preparing and maintaining the major work sites as well. It is very much a whole community effort,” Gerding said.

“Part of what makes this event so successful is the buy-in from the community. We often get letters from alumni and community members thanking us for upholding the tradition and even comments from strangers who have traveled through St. Charles and notice our beautiful gardens and curbsides.”

Gerding recalled a story last summer when she was vacationing in Mackinaw City and a shop-owner recalled the beautifying efforts of St. Charles.

“She said that when she lived in Bay City she used to drive through St. Charles on her way to craft shows and farmers markets to sell her jams and sauces, and always thought our curbs were so cute. She wondered how we got everyone to coordinate their landscaping,” Gerding said.

“When I explained Beautification Day to her she was amazed. Many places have nice landscaping and quaint downtowns, but not many can rely on volunteers the way we can. Every year the community comes through.”

Beautification day has been an annual tradition in the St. Charles Community since 1975. It began with a small group of environmentally conscious students who were led by former St. Charles biology teacher Doug Holem, who later also served as St. Charles village president for many years.

Several awards have been presented to St. Charles Community Schools and the beautification day committee for work done throughout the years, including the Charles Adams Platt Arty Soil Award.

“I really can’t say enough about the terrific volunteer effort. Our committee is made up of adults of all ages and backgrounds, and we are always welcoming of others who want to get involved,” Gerding said.

The beautification day committee meets October through May on the second Thursday of the month at St. Charles High School.

It is currently seeking donations as well as businesses and area residents to adopt gardens. Adopting a garden includes weeding and watering segments of plants, flowers etc. throughout the summer and into the fall. Flowers are provided or volunteers may add their own if they wish.

Gardens available for adoption are: small triangle by the bridge, grasses at M-52 near Oak St.; Belle Av. Planters – 10 planters in need of adoption; Citgo Gas station; the village sign near Tony’s Restaurant; curbside garden on M-52 near Maple; the planter between Tony’s Restaurant and gas station; curbside garden near Mercantile Bank; Depot Park; three gardens north of town across from Eric Construction; Rain Garden ant Fulton and Hosmer and the Rain Garden at Fulton and Flint; south parking lot planter near Bare’s Sports Shop; Barber Shop planter, downtown area; Frank’s Grocery, sign planter; and village signs,” Gerding said.

Donations, with checks made payable to St. Charles Community Schools and “Beautification Day” in the memo line, can be sent to the high school at 811 W. Walnut St., St. Charles, 48655.

St. Charles Beautification Day can also be found on Facebook as “STC Beautification Day.”

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