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Volunteers plant more than a thousand flower baskets

04/02/2019

In just four hours, volunteers planted more than 1,200 flower baskets that will adorn street light poles around the community this summer.

On Tuesday, volunteers gathered at The Garden to plant flower baskets in an assembly-line fashion.

An initiative of the Greater Kokomo Downtown Association, the Keep Kokomo Beautiful annual campaign invites residents, businesses and community organizations to lend a hand and keep our community looking beautiful through flower baskets, downtown garden planting and trail maintenance.

The campaign has enjoyed tremendous community support since its beginning, said Susan Alexander, manager of downtown creative placemaking for the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance.

“The Kokomo community is known for its beautiful flower baskets,” Alexander said. “And the fact that a community of volunteers comes together to plant those baskets make them even more beautiful.”

There were two shifts of volunteers for Tuesday’s event, which brought out teams from several local businesses including Community Howard Regional Health. More than 10 employees volunteered in the morning with more expected in the afternoon, said Joe Hooper, president of Community Howard.

“Giving back to the community is part of our culture,” Hooper said of Community Howard.

For Dr. Deanna McMillan with Ivy Tech Community College, creating that same culture in our community’s youth is at the heart of her mission with the college’s Integrated Technology Program. A partnership with FCA Group, the program’s student participants represent 14 high school and community centers throughout the region. Twelve of those students joined McMillan in volunteering on Tuesday.

“We want them to contribute to the community they are helping to build up,” she said. “In their careers, we want them to become part of the community, not just come in, work and go home. This is an opportunity to beautify the area, to be part of the community and see how their contributions make Indiana great.”

This type of involvement is what makes Keep Kokomo Beautiful so impactful, Alexander said.

“It’s about so much more than flowers,” she said. “It’s about residents being proud of the community they call home and giving them an opportunity to take ownership of it.”

In 2018, the initiative engaged more than 300 volunteers, planted 1,100 flower baskets and more than 100 garden areas.

This year, there will be four events to enhance the beauty of Kokomo and Howard County, including flower and container garden planting and a trail maintenance project

Alexander encourages advocacy groups, teams from businesses and organizations, families and individuals to participate in the events.

“This is a great way to demonstrate that your organization supports the community,” she said.

The planting will resume in May as volunteers will gather for two work days. First up will be annual planting at the City Hall Gazebo, 100 S. Union St., from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18. Then, from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, volunteers will plant the downtown container and alley gardens. They will meet on the Courthouse Square at the corner of Main and Sycamore streets.

There will be a Garden & Trail Maintenance Day on Saturday, July 20. That day, volunteers will work from 9 to 11 a.m. and will start the morning at the City Hall Gazebo.

Participants are encouraged to bring work gloves, knee pads and their favorite gardening tools to each event. To register for Keep Kokomo Beautiful events, visit www.GreaterKokomo.com/KKB

The campaign is made possible through partnerships with the city of Kokomo, Dave Lybrook of The Garden, Howard County, Wildcat Guardians, Howard County Stormwater District, Discover Howard County Trails and Sunbelt Rentals.

For more information, contact Susan Alexander at 765-457-5301.