In honor of Earth Day, dozens of volunteers helped clean up the Village of Mokena on April 22.
Earth Day, celebrated every April 22, serves as an opportunity for people to reflect on how they can do their part to make the world a better place to live.
Community Affairs Commission Chairwoman Debbie Engler said it’s wonderful to know the annual Mokena Clean Up Day is still going strong 27 years after its inception.
“It’s a great community event, and it’s great to see the community enjoys being here and coming out [to] help,” she said. “We had a couple years where it was raining buckets and people still came out. I mean, we sent them home [and] we rescheduled it, but the community loves it, and they enjoying helping keep their community clean. We really appreciate that.”
Volunteers along city staff were divided into seven groups, each on mission to target different areas of the community in need of a cleanup.
Dave Soutter, of Mokena, was preparing to take to the streets at this year’s cleanup day.
“I’m an Earth Day advocate, and I like to see our roads clean,” he said. “I like to help out with the Village… I don’t mind going out one day a year and cleaning some stuff up.”
This year was Soutter’s third time getting involved in the effort.
Soutter said he decided to return to the annual cleanup for a few different reasons.
“I like the fact that we’re cleaning stuff up, and it’s kind of fun to be together with a bunch of people of the same mind” he said.
Soutter said the event’s importance rings true for him.
“It’s amazing how much on some sections—there’s a section on Wolf Road—how much trash there actually is,” he said. “I’m always amazed that that many people throw stuff out of their car. It’s not like it’s any dirtier than any other road, but it’s amazing the volume.”
Megan Griffiths, of Portage, Ind., said she was looking forward to cleaning up alongside her husband.
“It’s good to come out and help the community clean up, and I enjoy the events [for which] we come here,” she said. “It’s nice to see it cleaned up, and I like to help.”
This year was Griffiths second time participating in the cleanup.
“Last year, we had a good turnout,” she said. “It seems like there’s been a steady walk-up of volunteers.”
Griffiths said the community’s presence at the cleanup says a lot about its commitment to the Village’s betterment.
“I think it shows there’s a lot of people who care for Mokena,” Griffiths said. “Everybody gets together and participates in making it a good community to live in.”
On average, 100 to 150 people participate in the Village’s annual cleanup day.
Upon return to Village Hall, volunteers were greeted with lunch.
“It’s interesting, because when they all come back for hotdogs later, you’ll hear kids saying, ‘oh, my gosh, you wouldn’t believe what we found... I can’t believe somebody threw this on the side of the road,’” Engler said. “It’s fun.”
Engler said the way the event continues to grow is wonderful to witness. She credits the strength in cleanup day participation to the sense of community the volunteers build with one another.
“I think it’s the camaraderie,” Engler said of the event’s appeal. “You meet new people, and you hangout with people. We have hot dogs, and it’s just a great time.”