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May 7, 2013 > Cargill volunteers contribute to Earth Day

Cargill volunteers contribute to Earth Day

Submitted By Jill Singleton

Earth Day brought a record-breaking heat wave to Newark and an intrepid group of volunteers who braved the elements to make significant improvements to Birch Grove Community Park. Thanks to a $5,000 donation by Cargill and the 14 company volunteers who sweated for hours under the hot sun, the park has a new look and safer playground.

Volunteers came from all parts of Cargill's nearby solar salt-making operations and for a variety of reasons. Jes Erickson-Camarena wanted to show his environmental dedication. Eric Huynh likes the outdoors. "Why wouldn't you hop on a chance to be out in the sun?" he asked. Joseph Fuentes chose to volunteer, simply because: "I volunteer a lot, with church and stuff."

Under the direction of Newark Public Works Maintenance Superintendent Bob Costa, Cargill volunteers were split into two work teams. One team planted a row of 15-gallon Live Oak and Canary Island Pine trees and cleaned up a large area between the parking lot and tennis courts. The other team spread approximately 25 truckloads, or nearly 100 cubic yards of wood chips throughout the two active playgrounds. For safety reasons, the wood chips are supposed to be at least six-inches deep, to soften the falls of the children.

Costa and two of his park maintenance staffers helped put the finishing touches on the work and shared a pizza and salad lunch at the park with the Cargill volunteers, which included: Al Caspersen, Tom Bertram, Will Pomale, Michele Donahue, Eric Huynh, Jes Erickson-Camarena, Chris Silvernale, Joseph Fuentes, Ryan Kesterson, Roger Sotto, Salvador Espinoza, Ruth Rubin, Pat Mapelli, and Jill Singleton.

Appreciation for Cargill's efforts was immediate. Nearby resident Ashley Blanco, who regularly brings her toddler nephew Cody to the park, arrived as the transformation was taking place and expressed both her amazement and gratitude. "This is a lot safer for the kids to come and play," she said.

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