Getting parade ready, St. Joseph students, Rotary clean up downtown Ironton

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

By Mark Shaffer
The Ironton Tribune

This weekend the cleanup in downtown Ironton began in preparation of the upcoming Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade on May 27.
On Friday, crews of teens worked cleaning grass and weeds out of cracks in the sidewalk and poured mulch onto various green spots.
The crew was made up of 45 students from St. Joseph High School.
“Our students are out here today because we are participating in a project where we have adopted the whole downtown area of Ironton and we clean up from Center Street to Jefferson Street,” explained Maria Whaley, St. Joseph High School religion teacher and service coordinator. “We really hit the parade route really good to get it cleaned up so people can enjoy the parade.”
Whaley said that the students all do community service projects and this was part of it.
“We don’t really count hours, but we do have school-wide projects; we have class projects. Our seniors actually go out for service every week at five different sites to serve the community,” she said. “It is supposed to be an outgrowth of their religious education.”
She added that they have done the downtown cleanup for the past two decades and they used to participate in a county-wide cleanup but it was on a Saturday and some years, they would have 60 students but not enough teachers to supervise. The students sometimes made up the bulk of the volunteers and didn’t leave much work for others.
“So, I talked to the mayor of Ironton and said St. Joe would adopt the whole downtown area if we could do it on a Friday, where I had teacher supervision and really make it efficient,” Whaley said. “He agreed, so that’s what we have been doing.”
St. Joseph Junior High students normally participate as well, but they were attending the Model UN event at Ohio University on Friday.
Ironton Rotary Club arrived on early Saturday morning to begin tidying up the area around the Rotary Fountain. They spent more than an hour cutting weeds, sweeping and blowing away leaves and picking up trash.
“This is a service project we do every year,” said Ironton Rotary Club president Marty Conley. “It is an opportunity for all of us to get out and beautify the area for the upcoming Memorial Day parade. We really just want to make it look good and showcase Ironton.”
He said doing things like this was part of the goal of the Rotarians.
“We like to do community work. One of the mottos of Rotary is ‘Service Above Self,’” he said. “We want to help out if there is a community need; if we can help, we want to help out.”
Two of their newest projects this year include food drives for youths after the school day is out and getting feminine hygiene products for women in shelters.
“We want to make an impact on our community,” Conley said.

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