550 volunteers improve Dubuque area - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

550 volunteers improve Dubuque area

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

More than 550 volunteers gave their time and hard work Friday and Saturday throughout the Dubuque area. It's part of the sixth annual Dubuque Community Days of Caring.

Area nonprofit organizations can apply annually to get volunteers for big projects that require extra help.

This year, volunteers were able to help 29 area non-profit organizations. Projects spanned from cleaning up the Dubuque Regional Humane Society to helping beautify parts of downtown.

One group of volunteers at 2315 Jackson Street Saturday morning helped sustainably fix up the yard. This was for the non-profit HEART Program, or Housing Education and Rehabilitation Training Program.

The HEART Program gives teens at risk of not graduating from the high school the skills to sustainably fix up a house. Volunteers were fixing up the yard of one of those houses.

"Sure, I like digging in the dirt. I'm a country gal from way back when, and none of this work bothers me at all," volunteer Judy Dunne said, as she loosened up soil for grass seed. "I think everyone should pitch in and help the people that can't do the things themselves, because someday you may need that help yourself."

Dunne's granddaughter, 7-year-old Kennedy Rowan, agreed.

"Helping people helps others, too," she said, as she sat, cross-legged in the grass, munching on her well-earned lunch.

This project site had sustainability in mind.

"The bricks that we're using here for the pavers are from the old JC Penney building downtown, when that was taken apart," project leader Nichole Christensen said.

The project aimed to eliminate all rainwater runoff from the yard by building a garden.

"Planting the garden, it was good for the runoff, you know, collecting the rain, but it also gives the neighborhood a little sense of hope," Christensen said. "Hopefully, it'll continue on to the other homeowners. They'll get encouraged to start beautifying their house and then come together as a community to keep it that way."

Volunteers at this project site included a mix of NICC students, American Trust employees, family members and workers with Green Iowa AmeriCorps.

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