Crow River Serve Day puts all hands in the middle

Co-chairs LouAnne Eberspacher, left, and Annette Tryon, right, keep it serious at the informational meeting for the Fifth annual Thousand Hearts Crow River Serve Day. (Sun staff photo by Alaina Rooker)

Massive community service undertaking ready for 5th year

It’s the final meeting of the minds for the upcoming Saturday, May 20, Thousand Hearts Crow River Serve Day.

In a conference room at Riverwood Covenant church, a small group of people behind the ambitious multi-location volunteer event get to brass tacks over coffee and giant cookies.

Figureheads/co-chairs/power duo Annette Tryon and LouAnne Eberspacher sit at the head of the table, poring over sign-up lists, waivers, tentative schedules, marketing materials, and a host of personal notes. Rockford projects coordinator Laura Franklin, business manager Andrea Erickson, and project managers Cheree Johnson, and Kerri and Randy Eberling are also present.

Crow River Serve Day is a unique, one-day event that hosts a slew of volunteer projects in the Crow River area. Centered around the themes of hunger, health, and habitation, the projects are all completed by hundreds of volunteers. Last year, the final volunteer count hit 435.

So far, the projects have stayed within Rockford and Greenfield city limits. Health projects include a blood drive and clothing/personal items drive for veterans, habitation projects give a facelift to parks, schools, roads, and other public areas; hunger projects include a food shelf drive, and two different food packing events. Volunteers are shuttled to their projects from homebase in Riverside Park, and end the day with a free dinner and celebration gathering.

In the conference room, conversation goes in many directions, some of them nervous. After all, kinks like planning meals and projects with low signups really can’t be worked out until numbers are final, which can be up to the day before the event. Rest assured, no one will be turned away for late, or even day-of registration.

“No one is going to say, ‘I’m sorry, we have enough people,’” Andrea Erickson said. As long as the waiver gets signed in the Lion’s Building at Riverside, there will be something for late sign-ups to do.

The weather is its own beast. Tryon has decided to stay positive. “It’s not going to happen, but we have a plan,” she tells the room.

She added that there has been rain on Crow River Serve Day before, and while most outdoor projects were postponed, all were still completed within two weeks after the event.

NEW THIS YEAR

As always, Riverside Park will remain the hub. The Red Cross truck will set up camp there, the hospitality center will be at the Lion’s Building, and the Packs for Vets: Give Back to Veterans clothing drive will table there also. It will be the first weekend for the Rockford Farmer’s Market, and nonperishable food items will be accepted for the food drive.

New activities will be held at Riverside Park for those stuck in limbo between projects or during lunch. Organized games will be held for kids, as well as a photo booth, music, yoga, and a CPR guidelines class by Rockford Fire. Co-chairs Tryon and Eberspacher decided to add some programming after watching participants waffling around at lunchtime. After a physical education teacher jumped in and started some impromptu games, the area livened up.

The Thousand Hearts crew will continue to look for ways to improve the event. Regardless, Tryon confidence continues. “Everything always falls into place,” she said.

To sign-up for a project, go to www.thousandhearts.weebly.com.