Group takes aim at helping those in need
As the fall season ends and the winter months begin, some area residents are finding ways to make sure those in need stay warm.
During the last two weekends, more than 150 Leavenworth County residents took part in Project Winterize, a group effort aimed at helping senior citizens winterize their homes and property.
Project Winterize, now in its fourth year, entailed volunteers raking leaves, putting plastic covering on windows and sealing holes where cold air could seep through walls.
Leavenworth County resident and Project Winterize organizer Wayne Jackson said the project is fueled by the willingness of others.
"It has always been a belief that a community is only as strong as the fiber of its volunteers," Jackson said. "This may sound corny, but there are some things communities must take care of themselves.
"We have to help take care of each other."
Project Winterize is sponsored by the Leavenworth County Clergy Association and the homes winterized are coordinated through the Leavenworth County Council on Aging.
In addition to using resources from the county, Jackson said the city of Leavenworth also participated in the project by donating trash bags.
In years past, volunteers normally winterized 60 to 70 homes. This year, however, 89 homes were improved for a winter many are expecting to be as cold as any in recent memory.
"We are used to 65 and 70 and when we saw we had 89 this year we said, 'Wow,'" Jackson said.
Jackson said there were several factors for the jump in the number of homes winterized this year.
"Last year, it was so expensive to heat homes and I think this year more people heard about (the project)," Jackson said. "It's also expensive to have leaves raked. Some people might have saved $100 in leave raking."
The project started as an idea of Jackson, 53, and his wife, both of whom are retired from the Army.
"My wife asked me to develop this project several years ago to take care of winter," Jackson said. "It is something we started four years ago and have been doing ever since."
From that simple idea four years ago came a volunteer effort that has touched numerous lives throughout the county. The project has become something that Jackson and other volunteers take very seriously.
"This is the most important thing I do," Jackson said. "There is a tremendous volunteer spirit in Lansing, Leavenworth and Leavenworth County. This wouldn't have happened without that volunteer spirit."
As the holiday season nears, and the temperatures continue to drop, the effort to keep residents warm won't stop with just the two weekends.
Jackson said there were some homes volunteers weren't able to get to during the recent weekends and those could be winterized in the future.
Regardless of the immediate future, the project is something Jackson will continue to pursue.
"I think we have an appreciation for this now," he said. "We have a responsibility to do these things as Americans."