With retirement looming, Jon Carroll wanted a project to keep him busy while making Creston a better place to live. Creston Area Little Stuff was born.
Its mission is to help residents who are not physically or financially able to do small projects outside their homes and to take care of some things the city of Creston can’t find time to do.
Carroll said after he came up with the idea, he got help from his sister Kathleen Miller who has a nonprofit that helps unwed mothers. He also consulted Mindy Stalker at the Union County Development Association.
So far, members have painted garage doors, removed brush and debris from yards and underpasses, and cleared caution signs of vines.
Carroll and the other five board members, his wife Roxanne Carroll, Randy Vicker, Jason Merboth, Barb Coenen and Lisa Miller will be choosing projects to spruce up Creston in small ways. Individual board members may also work on projects on their own. Their work is supported by charitable donations.
The tools they use are their own for now. Carroll said he hopes to be able to purchase tools specifically for the organization with future donations. Donations of tools are accepted as well.
They are looking for a snow blower, as winter will be here soon and Carroll said he expects clearing sidewalks and driveways to be a big request whenever it snows.
Currently the group is working on clearing and cleaning the pedestrian underpass on Sumner Avenue. Crews have cleared brush and hauled out mud and rock. Brett Street Power Washing cleaned the cement walls. Painting comes next. Appalachia Service Project plans to help out with that task.
Volunteers are needed to help with these projects. Board members post the jobs they are planning on the CALS Facebook page to alert those willing and able to help. Miller also stated that volunteers can message her with their phone numbers and she will let them know when there is work to be done.
With the small size of the projects, Carroll said two to three volunteers at a time will usually be enough to finish a job. The Facebook page has around 300 members at this point.
“Maybe 10% will actually show up to help,” Carroll said. “We shouldn’t have too much trouble getting volunteers.”
The city of Creston has recognized the value of CALS and has given them a key to the compost site so members can haul branches, brush and leaves without waiting for the site to be open to the public. Normally there is a $300 fee for contractors to receive a key, but the council waived this cost for CALS.
Carroll said CALS is a non-judgemental group when deciding what projects to take on.
“I have had feedback from some, warning that there will be those who take advantage of us,” Carroll said. “To those, I remind them that the objective is to improve appearances in and around Creston, not to serve any particular group more than another.”
CALS is open for suggestions to projects needed around Creston. Small outdoor tasks that improve the appearance of Creston are their main focus.
“It’s refreshing to see all the people volunteer,” Carroll said.