In honor of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., People Helping People, 1396 Kass Circle, Spring Hill, will host the annual Kass Circle Cleanup on Monday, January 15. “Kass Circle Cleanup is a grassroots effort to give back to one’s community,” read an event notice.
This event is planned in observance of Martin Luther King Day, which is observed each year on the third Monday in January. Designated as a “day in, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a day of service that encourages all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
At the Kass Circle Cleanup from 8 a.m. to noon (with signup taking place from 8-8:30 a.m. at the PHP Help Center), volunteers will be encouraged to clean up the street and neighborhood surrounding the headquarters of People Helping People, an interfaith nonprofit that provides food to people in need in Hernando County. PHP will supply masks, gloves, trash bags, water, coffee and snacks.
According to executive director Kendra Kenney, the Kass Circle Cleanup has become a tradition at People Helping People. “Kass Circle Cleanup is an annual project for PHP and has been ongoing for several years. We feel that as a good neighbor to the surrounding businesses and homes, we should make sure that everything beyond our 1396 Kass Circle address is kept tidy,” Kendra explained. “We had around 20 volunteers last year. Many of them are young people.”
The cleanup is an extensive, widescale effort that covers the area surrounding this Spring Hill office, resource center and food pantry. “We start at our HELP Center, go down Kass Circle to Spring Hill Dr.,” said Kenney. “Continue down Spring Hill back to the other entrance to Kass.”
Kenney often finds herself dismayed by the trash and refuse discovered throughout the Kass Circle Cleanup. “It’s unbelievable and unfortunate what people will leave behind,” she said. “Last year, we had to dispose of a sofa and a TV and just an incredible amount of plastic that could have simply been placed in a dumpster or garbage can.”
Cleanup volunteers are supplied with the tools to neaten and beautify their subject area.
“We will provide gloves, masks, garbage bags, and a couple of pickup trucks to haul out any large object,” said Kenney.
Furthermore, participating young people can clean up when it comes to earning volunteer hours for school. “Students are encouraged to help out this year as it is a holiday off of school, too, and the hours would count toward any scholarship requirements,” she said. “It’s also a good opportunity for those needing community service hours or families looking to do something together.”
Kenney sees the responsible management of trash as a societal responsibility. “It’s hard for me to believe that in 2024, people will still litter, throwing garbage out of their cars or as they are walking. Who does that? On the other hand, I understand the plight of the homeless, who do not have a place to throw out their garbage,” she said. “I can understand homeowners being upset when they see the garbage from a homeless campsite. This is a societal problem and needs the community to work together to figure out how to manage that garbage.”
Kenney sees MLK Day as an ideal time for people to gather and carry out their civic responsibility to clean and preserve their environment. “The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is really an appropriate day for the project,” she said. “Clyde, who works as our front desk assistant, wrote the part posted on PHP’s Facebook about Dr. King (as a part of the cleanup announcement). I wanted the posting to be sure and address the true reason for the holiday and from a black man’s perspective.”
Clyde wrote: “Dr. King dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for civil rights. His leadership gave credence to his overall success in the civil rights movement. He was convinced that people of color could and would participate in the political process and the right to social freedom and equality. Dr. King’s belief is that all men are created equal, regardless of one’s race, creed, color, or ethnicity. He dreamed that one day, people would live together like brothers and sisters. In order to realize this, change starts at the grassroots.”
“People Helping People is a very grassroots type of organization,” the message concludes. “We’re proud to be offering this opportunity to honor Dr. King and his legacy while giving back to the community.”