Local homeowners who need help cleaning up their yards this spring are in luck because a program that offers free labor is not only returning, it’s expanding.
Applications for the second annual Oxford Gives Back work weekend (April 29-30) are being accepted now through March 6. The program is open to homeowners in Oxford, Addison and Orion townships.
“I expect once we get the word out there, we’re going to have a huge, huge response,” said Oxford Schools Early College senior Jacinta Hogan, the program’s founder. “We’re trying to find whoever needs help, and then we’re going to make it happen. There is no limit.”
Last year, 32 homes owned by senior citizens in the tri-township area benefited from free yardwork – including raking, mulching, weeding, trimming and other miscellaneous outdoor tasks – performed by 350 volunteers, a mix of OHS students, employees and parents.
This year, Oxford Gives Back is expanding the scope of who it helps. In addition to senior citizens (age 60 and older), the program is looking to assist anyone who needs yardwork done, but is unable to do it themselves and cannot afford to hire someone.
Hogan said the program is reaching out to disabled individuals, people suffering from major illnesses or undergoing taxing treatments such as chemotherapy, single parents, etc.
“I think there’s a lot of people in the community that can use help,” she said. “I don’t think you really see it until you look for it. There’s definitely people struggling in Oxford. We have the means to help them.”
Oxford Gives Back is also expanding its volunteer pool.
Last year, all the volunteers came from OHS. This year, Hogan said they’re encouraging middle school students to get involved as well as elementary school students, as long as they’re accompanied by parents. Lake Orion High School students will be invited to participate as well.
The program is partnering with Kensington Church in Orion Township and Christmas in Action (CIA) to receive additional manpower and resources.
CIA is a program through which volunteers carry out free home repairs and improvements in order to allow low-income senior citizens to remain safe, warm and independent in their own homes.
“We’re really trying to make it a big community effort,” Hogan said. “I think this is one project that can bring everyone in Oxford together to do something for the common good. Businesses can participate. Schools can participate. Churches can participate.”
Hogan was very impressed with how well the inaugural Oxford Gives Back went.
She was “definitely blown away” by the “maturity” of the student volunteers, by “the humility and gratefulness of the homeowners” and by the willingness of the adult volunteers to make time to help despite their “busy schedules.”
“I look forward to that same community spirit this year,” she said.
Homeowners interested in applying for assistance through Oxford Gives Back are asked to call Hogan at (248) 396-1734 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application, as well as information about the program, is also available at www.oxfordgivesback.weebly.com.
Homeowners from outside Oxford, Addison and Orion are welcome to apply and will be “taken into consideration,” Hogan noted.