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Better community stewardship starts with you

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Outrage -- that was my first response to the "sea" of garbage at We Fest. I wondered why we allowed this mess to happen. In my head, I started formulating a letter to the editor determined that people should know about this filth.

I was here to help my daughter with this service project on behalf of 4-H. Armed with latex gloves and garbage bags, we started picking up aluminum cans, food, clothing, lawn chairs, etc. We thought that next time, we would bring rakes to put it in a pile before putting it into the bags. We wondered why people would just leave behind their trash when dumpsters were within walking distance. We talked to others who were cleaning, amazed at the amount of garbage surrounding us.

We heard the story of one gentleman who had been coming for years. He says he cleans to earn money when his business has slowed for the summer. He gathered unopened food, towels, pillows, and blankets to salvage. Last year, he said he worked for a week helping to clean until the job was done.

My thoughts changed from anger to gratitude. People need to know how others have come for years to clean a mess they did not make. They need to know that those same people are grateful for the "treasures" that they may make use of even though someone else decided it was trash.

My friend, Carolyn, often reminded me to choose the "hill I was going to die on." I think this is one of them. We need to do a better job of loving our neighbors. We need to make sure people have the resources to meet their needs. We need to be better stewards of our environment. I know the job seems overwhelming and we might not know where to start. But it starts with you. Look around.

Ask yourself this question, "How can I be of service today?" -- Laurie Meyer-Olson, Detroit Lakes

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