Get your feet wet

Lydia Johnson | May 07, 2018

A volunteer stretches to snag a piece of trash from the Fox River.

For one group of Illinois Kiwanians, community service not only is hands-on. It also means getting their feet wet.

For 10 years, the Kiwanis Club of Aurora, Illinois, has led local efforts to clean up the Fox River.

Club member Pat Divine originally proposed the project for Kiwanis One Day. Divine works for Fox Metro Reclamation District, which cleans and treats water for many communities in the area.
Sixty percent of Aurora’s water supply comes from the Fox River, Divine says, and residents also use the river for fishing and water skiing. It is so important to the town that representatives from the City of Aurora, Aurora Township, Fox Valley Park District and Fox Metro join the Kiwanians for their annual project. 

This year, 427 volunteers braved the unusually cold temperature to clean up the river. Among the volunteers were Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, high school and college students, employees of local agencies and Aurora residents. Divine attributes the large turnout to a community dedicated to service.

“People look forward to working on it,” Divine says. “They feel how important it is to keep something that is so vital to our community that they want to help.”

Members of the Aurora Kiwanis club guided groups of 20 volunteers to work at specific segments of the river. Participating agencies provided trucks, Dumpsters, trash bags and transportation to the Fox Valley Park District, which served as the project's operation center.

By the end of the day, 52 yards of trash had been cleared. Volunteers hauled tires, couches and even two computers from the river. And no group was more excited at the results than the children who had eagerly joined in.

“We had a tremendous amount of youngsters,” Divine says. “That’s really a plus when you see that they are there and they want to work and they want to do it. It’s so important, because this is their river.”


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