RACINE - Through one day of making a difference, a foundation will be in place that will generate many more days of people giving back to their communities.
That was the message a couple of community volunteers were looking to instill in youngsters helping out Saturday at Make A Difference Day activities throughout the Racine area.
Created by USA Weekend magazine, Make A Difference Day is a loosely coordinated national event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of every October. Its goal is to get neighbors to help neighbors through various locally coordianted volunteer projects.
Looking on a local Web site, den leader Lisa Helland was able to find a project for her Webelo Scouts of Pack 146/Den 1 based at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Mount Pleasant. Helland's son Chad, and fellow Scouts Tyler Bull and Mitchell Russ, volunteered to put a coat of sealer on the fence at the Kids Cove playground at North Beach on Racine's lakefront. The boys' parents also got into the act.
"We're helping to save the environment and stuff and keeping this playground going for a while so it can stay in great shape," said Chad Helland, 9.
Experiencing the satisfaction of volunteer work is something Bob Oertel, a coordinator for the Friends of the Kids Cove Playground, hopes carries over for some of the youths who participated Saturday.
"These playgrounds are supposed to last for 20 years," Oertel said Saturday. "We've got 16 years to go to plan for help."
Oertel said volunteer upkeep of the playground is not limited to Make A Difference Day. It's an ongoing effort throughout the year. Anyone wishing to help can call him at (262) 639-8911.
While there was a small army of volunteers at Kids Cove, it was a more subtle scene at the skate park in Pershing Park. Kuko Padilla was there repairing ramps, just as he has done for the past 10 years.
On Saturday, not only was he getting help from Mykell Larrin, a bicycle motocross enthusiast and regular volunteer, but also from brothers Logan and Hunter Tuttle.
The Tuttles - Logan, 11, and Hunter, 10 - came to the park to help at the urging of their grandfather. But both boys soon found themselves getting into their assignments from Padilla.
"We're doing a really good job here," said Hunter. "We're doing building, we're picking up recycling and stuff."
And Logan was keeping track of production.
"I took about 15 pieces of wood out to his (Padilla's) truck and Hunter took two," Logan said.
Padilla says it's not just his enjoyment of BMX that keeps him returning with his tools to keep the skate park
He said he also does it to make sure local kids have a recreational option.
"They've got to have something," Padilla said. "If not this, then what?"