FOND DU LAC – Acts of kindness, no matter how small, do not go unnoticed.
Beatrice Blackhall of North Fond du Lac is 90 years old and wishes she could still do the things she used to. She’s had to give up driving, and although she has two daughters who help her with grocery shopping and other tasks, she doesn’t like to have to depend on others.
But when she heard about Fond du Lac Area United Way Rake a Difference Day on Saturday, she decided to reach out for some helping hands. Her yard is thick with trees and her lawn is a blanket of fallen leaves as far as she can see.
“It’s such a nice gesture that someone would do this for me. It make me happy people are so kind,” Blackhall said of the volunteers who showed up at her door that morning, armed with rakes and upbeat attitudes.
About 100 volunteer rakers were out in the community helping those who needed assistance due to physical barriers. The event coincided with Make A Difference Day, one of the largest national days of community service. Held each year on the fourth Saturday of October, thousands of volunteers unite for a common mission to improve the lives of others.
Participating in Make a Difference Day is something Pam, Emily and Scott Stegemeyer do each year as a family.
“It’s about trying to help out the next person,” Pam Stegemeyer said early Saturday morning, when a chill was still in the air. “For me, what goes around comes around.”
Retired meat cutter, 88-year-old Jerry Butzler said he was heading out for his traditional Saturday morning breakfast with a bunch of his meat cutter buddies, right about the time volunteers were coming to his home. His corner lot in the city of Fond du Lac is filled with maples, nut trees and some flowering crab apples — more than he can handle anymore when summer turns to fall.
“When the trees bloom they are just gorgeous but right now, I tell you, it’s a real job to clean up. I think this is a great service and a deal I can’t pass up,” he said.
Mark Robinson of Fond du Lac heard about the opportunity to help out through his employer, Fives Giddings & Lewis. More than anything else, he said, he believes in communities helping each other out to get things done.
Tony and Ellie Baldus drove up from Kewaskum because "it's something positive to do in a time when things you hear about aren’t so positive,” Tony Baldus said. “Anytime we can help others we should step into the job and do it.”
Just a few miles south of Fond du Lac, volunteers were collecting supplies at a gas station in Lomira for victims of Hurricane Matthew who live in the tiny town of Lumberton, North Carolina. Donna King, who grew up there, was spearheading what she called the Fill-the-Truck Hometown fundraiser. The truck was also scheduled to collect supplies on Sunday in the Subway and Euphoria Salon strip mall parking lot on East Johnson Street in Fond du Lac.