Some shoveled compost to fill garden socks to help needy families grow fresh produce.
Others spent the day using wrenches, tire pumps and other tools to fix up bikes for others.
And still others got outdoors for a day of running and games designed to get kids jazzed over math.
As seemingly unrelated as these activities were, they were all part of the 16th annual Day of Service. The project of Oberlin College’s Bonner Center for Service and Learning seeks to connect Oberlin College students, faculty members, staff and alumni with nonprofit and grassroots organizations.
At this year’s event, more than 450 students and site leaders donated their day at
36 locations around the county, according to Carrie Fowler, a 2012 Oberlin College graduate and coordinator of the project.
Cria Kay, an 18-year-old Oberlin College student, was among many working Saturday. She was at the Kurtz Bros. Yard/Elyria Regional Compost Facility on Chestnut Street where about a dozen students were helping to create about 400 garden socks — fabric bags stuffed with a mixture of fertile compost — that will go to about 50 low-income families with little or no property to grow fresh produce such as tomatoes, zucchini and peppers.
“I can’t believe it’s this warm,” Kay said with a laugh as she felt the very warm fabric bags being stacked on pallets and wrapped tightly in black plastic to be trucked from the facility.
The garden sock effort was made possible through the efforts of the Filtrexx Foundation, which is affiliated with the Filtrexx Corp., which owns the Kurtz Bros. Yard, according to Ron Huff, a Filtrexx field manager.
Huff talked as he helped feed the dark scoops of compost into a white machine on wheels called the mini-FX.
“This is the first time we’ve had volunteers making the socks,” he said, describing the machine as working “a lot like a sausage-making machine.”
Pete Arden, 20, a second-year Oberlin College student, was glad for the chance to get outdoors after two weeks of classes.
“It’s good to get back to manual labor,” he said. “I work construction in the summer.”
The project was also a good way to meet and get to know other students, Arden said.
In a parking lot beside First Church in Oberlin, an equal number of students were working together as the Community Block Party Bike Fix-Up to repair and spruce up dozens of lost, stolen or discarded bicycles that were recovered around the Oberlin area.
“Some of them were just trashed or forgotten by students at the end of the (school) year,” said Hannah Montgomery, 19, a first-year student, as she sat on the pavement working on a set of brakes on one bike. “A lot of it (the work) is fixing broken brakes, and brake lines.”
Other chores being done by fellow students, most of whom were freshmen, included replacing tires or fixing flats, and repairing or replacing bent fenders, kick stands and other parts.
“We’re getting a lot of volunteers in Oberlin to do a lot of the work,” said Zohra Ansari-Thomas, 20. “Oberlin is a biking town.”
About 40 bikes were being worked Saturday with help from the Lorain County Wheelmen and Swerve Bike Shop.
Plans call for work to continue all month leading up to a Sept. 29 bicycle raffle and Oberlin Community Block Party on Tappan Square during which adults and children can win raffle tickets to buy refurbished bikes for $10 ($5 for kids’ bikes).
“We hope to get lots of bikes out into the community for really cheap,” organizer David Roswell said.
Proceeds from the raffle will go to buy bike helmets to donate to those needing them, and used for the same event next year, Roswell said.
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