When yardwork goes from simple chore to impossible task due to age, illness, disability or economic circumstances, that’s when Oxford Gives Back steps in and saves the day.
Local homeowners who need help cleaning up their properties this spring are in luck because the program that provides free labor is returning.
Applications for the third annual Oxford Gives Back (OGB) work weekend, scheduled for April 28-29, are now being accepted. The program is open to homeowners in Oxford, Addison and Orion townships.
“I, personally, love giving back to the community and helping those who need it,” said fourth-year Oxford Schools Early College student Madison Sparks, a member of the OGB team.
OGB helps senior citizens (age 60 and older), disabled individuals, people suffering from major illnesses or undergoing taxing treatments such as chemotherapy, and single parents.
Basically, anyone who is unable to do yardwork themselves and cannot afford to hire someone to do it for them is eligible for this free program.
“We haven’t changed any of the criteria,” Sparks said.
Services include raking, mulching, weeding, trimming, clearing debris, bagging and burning yard waste, preparing gardens, planting flowers and other outdoor chores.
Last year, approximately 115 homes received free yardwork as part of the OGB program, which was started in 2016 by Oxford graduate Jacinta Hogan.
“We’re in the process of calling all the homeowners from last year to see if they want to be helped again,” Sparks said.
Last year’s work was done by an army of approximately 780 volunteers.
They included Oxford students of all ages, school district employees, scouts, athletes, churchgoers, families and others.
“It brings the community closer together,” Sparks said.
Sparks believes “sometimes kids at the high school can get a bad rap.” But OGB helps dispel preconceived notions about teenagers when people see “a ton of us coming out to volunteer.”
“I think it’s so cool how all the students can get involved in such a big community service project,” she said.
Sparks is grateful to Hogan, who’s now attending college in Florida, for getting her involved with OGB.
“When she took me under her wing and introduced me to the homeowners, it just lit this fire inside of me,” she said.
She loved seeing the “smiles on their faces.”
“They just wanted to hug me and thank me,” Sparks said. “They were so appreciative of everything that everybody was doing. To me, that means a lot.”
Homeowners interested in applying for assistance through Oxford Gives Back are asked to call Sparks at (248) 274-6316 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those interested in rolling up their sleeves and volunteering for the work weekend or making a donation to the program are also encouraged to contact Sparks.