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Collecting Community

The third annual Deerfield Township park clean-up deepens neighborhood connections.

It’s easy to feel like we know our neighbors even when we don’t actually stop and chat very frequently. Volunteering in our local area can be a path to deepening those connections while also getting practical work done for a worthy cause. 

Bringing people together and getting tasks accomplished motivated Deerfield Township to start Clean Up Day. 

“We started doing the Clean Up Day in 2018, but this will be the first year at Cottell Park. Previously we held it at Kingswood,” explains Joel Smiddy, parks and recreation director. “Clean Up Days are important to the Deerfield Township community because our residents really take pride in our parks.”

Clean Up Day brings a group of about 30 people (the maximum is 35) for a day of getting to know each other while tackling some of the major needs of the park. 

Kristin Malholtra, local resident and a Deerfield Township Trustee, remembers the first Clean Up Day.

“We got there early in the morning, and they had donuts and coffee for the volunteers. Some groups picked up big pieces of garbage, like parts of old golf carts, and another group was picking up large sticks after a storm that had come through, and other groups were picking up trash by the side of the road,” says Kristin.

For Kristin, connecting with neighbors ended up being a big part of the appeal.

“It was a good way to feel like you have an impact while getting to know some of your neighbors,” she says. “You run into your neighbors at the grocery store or out and about, but when you are volunteering, walking along the path, you are picking up trash and working together. You strike up conversations and get to know each other on a deeper level.”

These reflections show that the Clean Up Day efforts are hitting the goals that the Township hopes to achieve.

“Our Park Clean Up Days allow us to collaborate and create connections with our residents and foster environmental stewardship,” says Joel. 

The Clean Up events are representative of the Deerfield Recreation vision statement from the Parks Master Plan: "Connect our growing community with safe places to reflect, gather, and play while promoting healthy active lifestyles, community wellness, and environmental sustainability."

This year the Clean Up Day moves to Cottell Park, a flagship park of Deerfield Township, where there will be weeding, mulching, and flower planting in addition to cleaning. The day is also gaining an additional fun activity. 

“This year we added a volunteer appreciation component of kite decorating after we finish working,” explains Joel. “Groups of friends, families, and individuals who volunteered can gather together in the Snyder House to enjoy light refreshments and get creative with kite decorating. They can then go outside to fly their kites and enjoy the park. It’s a way to say thank you and celebrate all of their hard work.”

Registration is open now at, but spots are limited, so sign up soon. Adults, teens and families with children 10 and up are welcome. All minors 13 and under must be accompanied by a participating adult.

Cottell Park Clean Up Day, 5847 Irwin Simpson Rd, Deerfield Township. April 18, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.