Volunteers to work on environmental, social project in Topeka

TOPEKA -- On Thursday, April 28, volunteers from across Kansas will gather for the 14th Annual Kansas Celebration of Community Service in Topeka. Sponsored by the Kansas Volunteer Commission since 1992, the event will be assisted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) and the Kansas Office of the Corporation for National and Community Service. From 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., about 250 volunteers will serve in community service projects throughout Topeka.

The volunteers represent programs funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Learn & Serve America. The Westar Energy Green Team -- comprised of more than 750 employees statewide who volunteer to help preserve Kansas wetlands, restore prairies, plant trees, create nature trails, and educate students about the environment -- will also be on hand. In addition to trail building, park area cleanup, and landscaping, small groups will assist various social service groups in the city.

Following the service projects, volunteers will celebrate their accomplishments with a 1 p.m. luncheon at the KDWP Region 2 Office, 300 SW Wanamaker in Topeka. KDWP Secretary Mike Hayden has been invited to speak at the luncheon.

This year's Kansas Celebration of Service will be the culmination of a project that begins April 19. At that time, local, state, and national AmeriCorps volunteers will start re-routing trails, building new trails, disguising old trails, cleaning out water bars, and improving bridge approaches in preparation for a new state park near the KDWP Region 2 Office.

From 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on April 28, volunteers will work on community service projects to assist the American Cancer Society, the Veterans Administration Hospital, and the Westar Energy Green Team volunteers in removing encroaching vegetation around ponds at Maclennan Park. (Volunteers will landscape the grounds, demolish a building, and complete trail work at KDWP's Region 2 Offices.)

A closing ceremony will be held at the KDWP Region 2 Office from 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. All participants will gather to reflect on their service and enjoy a lunch prepared by the Foster Grandparent Program in Topeka.

The Kansas Volunteer Commission and the Kansas Office of the Corporation for National and Community Service are the sponsors for the day's events. The commission sets state policy for AmeriCorps and Learn & Serve America programs. These community-based programs meet educational, environmental, public safety, homeland security, and other public service needs throughout Kansas. Federal funds from the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, DC, provide support for these Kansas programs.