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Scouts and soccer moms, church ladies (men, too) and club members and volunteers from a host of other organizations turned out Saturday to make a difference in the lives of the elderly and people with disabilities.

About 350 volunteers, working through the Plymouth Community United Way, did leaf-raking, shrub-trimming, general cleanup and other outdoor chores on Saturday at homes in Plymouth and Plymouth and Canton townships. It was the United Way's Make a Difference Day, an event that matches those in need with those who want to help.

“They did a wonderful job for me,” said Joan Brady, who had a crew of volunteers at her home in Plymouth Township's Lake Pointe subdivision.

The workers raked and bagged leaves, Brady said, and trimmed bushes, work she finds difficult because of osteoporosis. “I appreciate what they do. They're wonderful,” she said.

“It was a fabulous experience,” said Marnie Holdefer of Canton, who joined five others from Plymouth First United Methodist Church to clean up the yard at another home in Plymouth Township.

The homeowner couldn't have done the work on her own, Holdefer said, but came out to thank and chat with volunteers.

The recipient was “humbled and a little overwhelmed that six people would show up to do her yard work,” Holdefer said, but had a positive attitude and was “extremely grateful.”

“It was just a real special time,” she said.

Saturday was Holdefer's first time as a Make a Difference Day volunteer, and marked her church's return to participating in the program after a hiatus of several years. Other church members, she said, volunteered as members of other groups, in addition to the six on her team.

“We will make this an ongoing project of the church,” Holdefer said.

Mary Bartek of Plymouth Township was on a team of Plymouth Democratic Club members; the group was sent to two different houses, also in Plymouth Township.

Volunteers gathered at the Salvation Army's Plymouth Corps before fanning out to their assignments, and Bartek said she saw many other volunteers there whom she knew from other organizations.

“It's a great experience,” Bartek said. “We love doing it.” The PDC is a regular participant in Make a Difference Day.

It's all about giving back, Bartek said: “That's just part of what I personally, and many people in our club, like.”

According to Linda Chomin, a United Way spokeswoman, 48 yards in the three communities were cleaned up in Saturday's effort. Participating groups included local Girl Scouts, church groups, the Plymouth High School hockey team and the Key Club (a branch of the Kiwanis for young people) at Plymouth-Canton Educational Park.

Volunteers were treated to a continental breakfast supplied by Panera Bread, Einstein Bagels, Dunkin' Donuts and the Hiller's and Busch's supermarkets. They brought their own rakes and tools, and yard-waste bags were donated by Home Depot and Lowe's.

mjachman@hometownlife.com (313) 222-2405

Canton & Plymouth Observers - November 10, 2011

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Plymouth Community United Way

960 W. Ann Arbor Trail, Suite 2
Plymouth, MI  48170
Phone:  734-453-6879