For the third straight year, Hands On Newton is conducting a community service event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. on his national Day of Service.
On Jan. 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Newton County residents are invited to help build the bedding frames for a community garden next to the Porterdale City Hall at 2200 Main Street and prepare it for spring planting.
The community garden would be the third one built by Hands On Newton in the past year. For 2009 MLK Jr. Day, gardens were established at the Community Food Pantry and at the Senior Citizens Service Center at the Turner Lake Complex.
Part-time Program Director Mollie Melvin said community gardens are popular choices for volunteer projects because they provide a cost-effective way for the community to fight hunger by providing a source of healthy, locally grown produce and, when managed by the community, provide the opportunity for citizens to engage in dialogue about what the community needs to support healthy families.
The gardens were maintained by volunteers throughout the year and produced more than 250 pounds of produce that was donated to the Rainbow Covenant Ministries' homeless shelter and the senior citizen’s center.
Melvin said some of Monday’s volunteers would be sent to the food pantry’s garden to prepare that for spring planting as well.
The Newton County Community Garden that will be built at Porterdale is a collaboration between Hands On Newton, Newton County Master Gardeners, and Newton County Extension Service. The garden will have plots available for the public to rent and maintain for their own use.
"The planning group was looking for a site that was located within a community in need of healthy food options as well as accessible to others in the county who would like to participate. This garden is different from our previous two in that the beds will be leased by individuals who plant, maintain and harvest them," Melvin said. "The Master Gardeners involved in the planning are researching the possibility of locating a farmers market near the Porterdale garden so that local residents and other Newton County growers will have an outlet to sell their produce."
The volunteer project qualifies for the Give a Day of Service, Get a Day at Disney program, in which Disney donates a free one-day theme park ticket to one million volunteers who participate in volunteer service projects in 2010. Volunteers can register for the project by visiting DisneyParks.com.
For more information, visit newtonpartnership.org and click on the Hands On Newton tab or call (770) 330-7405.
In related Hands On Newton news, Melvin said Hands On Newton is currently a program of Newton County Community Partnership, but its goal is to become a free-standing 501(c)3 in the future. Melvin replaced former Executive Director Doug Bolton, who retired in October. She is working on a part-time basis but said no search for an executive director will be conducted until the formation of a 501(c)3 is complete.
Hands On Newton was formed in early 2007 and is a nonprofit that fosters volunteer service and civic engagement. Melvin said Hands On Newton helps people of all ages identify projects that match their talents and interests and connects them with community-based organizations that need help to achieve their goals. Volunteer opportunities range in time, skill level and environment.