Persevering for the Park
Since 1996, Christ the King 1923, Bloomer, Wis., has partnered with the local Moose Lodge, Catholic Fraternal Life and Scouts to coordinate a Feeding God’s Children Event during which volunteers beautify Irvine Park and Zoo in Chippewa Falls for the summer season. Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) has supported and assisted with the upkeep of the park for over 20 years and is listed among the main benefactors for the park. On April 27, the group was ready to do it again. Due to a predicted late season snow fall, it seemed as if the event wasn’t going to happen. Bonnie and Gene Schindler, the event organizers, were not fazed by this possibility. “This is Wisconsin, it happens, we’ll find another way we can serve if the weather does come,” said Bonnie. Luckily, at the last minute, the storm diverted south, and volunteers bundled up for the residual chill.
Seventy-five volunteers from the community helped with the clean-up, despite the frosty weather. “We’re thrilled so many people still came, there are more here than we were planning on having!” remarked Bonnie. For some Girl Scout troops, this was their first time attending the event, and they were thrilled to be a part of it. Children and adults raked leaves, picked up sticks, cleared drains, and uncovered pathways that will be used by locals throughout the summer season. All the waste was packed into the back of trucks and taken away to properly disposed of. After their hard work was done, the kids visited all the animals in the zoo, bouncing to see the tigers enjoy their clean new spaces. Even while chasing away the guinea fowl, the joy throughout the day could be undoubtedly felt and seen. Hot dogs, hot cocoa and Girl Scout cookie-flavored ice cream were rewarded to all the volunteers!
Troop leaders were already asking Bonnie how they could be added to the volunteer list for next year. Park staff expressed their gratitude for COF returning year after year, and continuing to give of their time and energy, while encouraging people to visit the parks. “Every year they show up and help out; we knew even if the weather came they’d be here,” said one park employee. The dedication of this group is clear to all members of the community, as within a few hours the park was spotless, and smiles were still brimming wide. The legacy left by these members will be felt and seen for years to come. Bonnie and Gene don’t plan on stopping anytime soon, but when they do there will be plenty of people to answer the call and continue caring for Irvine Park and Zoo.
Article by Kaitlynrose Bicek.