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Comcast workers spruce up LeConte

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POSTED: April 26, 2010 12:53 p.m.
Photo by Patty Leon/

Lynn Harmon, far right, works with volunteers to re-pot plants and flowers during Saturday's Comcast Cares Day at LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation.

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As part of Comcast Cares Day, nearly 40 volunteers gathered Saturday at LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation to work on flower beds, mulch the garden and lay bricks on a walkway designed to honor those once enslaved on Liberty County plantations. The memorial, “The Walk: An African-American Tribute,” will cover 50,000 square feet and bear the names of about 6,000 former slaves when it is complete.
The nationwide annual event was created to encourage Comcast employees and their families to make a positive impact in communities across the country. The effort began in 2001 and is now one of the largest single-day, corporate volunteer events in the country. 
“It’s a national event,” volunteer coordinator Lynn Harmon said. “We do it every year and it’s just a great way to give back to the communities. We start reaching out to people probably about two months before the event and we try and find a place where we would be the most useful.”
“Typically we do two locations one in Savannah and one in Hinesville,” said Robbie King, who also coordinated volunteers. “These are our two largest markets. We want to serve both communities.”
A Comcast group in Savannah helped to beautify the West Broad Street YMCA.
Harmon said they approached the United Way of the Coastal Empire to find out about organizations in need.
“They pointed us in the direction of Mary Beth (Evans) with LeConte-Woodmanston,” Harmon said. “And I truthfully had never heard of it. But I’ve learned a lot about it and it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of and it looked like they needed the help to get it going.”
A small portion of the walkway already had been started by previous volunteers. Evans, the executive vice president of the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation, said the walkway eventually will wind through flowers and ancient trees of the LeConte Botanical Garden, stretching more than a mile.
The bricks will bear the first names of the slaves and their ages in 1860. Slaves didn’t have surnames during this time.
Evans said the volunteers didn’t mind the rain much. She said it helped keep the dust to a minimum and everyone was still happy to get busy and dirty. She said Comcast pitched in and purchased more bricks, and other companies also have helped bring the project to fruition.
“The sand and the mulch were delivered by Coastal Site Services pro bono,” Evans said. “They didn’t charge us for the diesel or their time. Newport Timber donated the mulch which is being placed around the garden. Plantation Supply loaned us the plate tamper for the weekend. Martin Marietta discounted the gravel for the memorial walkway. We are getting it at half price. And since Joe Fanning delivered it for free that really helped.”
Harmon said several employees brought their children to help and learn about giving back.
“I think it’s extremely important because I think volunteerism is down as a whole,” she said. “We need to really teach that to our community and our younger generation so they can get involved. It’s hard to get people out on a Saturday. But the volunteers who come out and become involved in it usually end up having a great time. It’s well worth it and if you can teach that to the kids why not.”
“This is happening all over the country so on this one day there is a lot that gets done,” King said.
Evans hopes to finish the walkway this year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1860 Census, which inspired the idea for the memorial.
She said there is still time to get involved the project.
“There are several jobs we are doing. You send me 40 people and I’ll come up with things to do for them,” Evans said.
For more information, to volunteer or to donate, go to www.leconte-woodmanston.org.
 

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