‘Polishing the Pearl’ a successful community event

By Cassie J. Fowler

March 30, 2014

WHITMIRE — Chances are if you rode through Whitmire this past Saturday, you said “Why in the world are all these folks walking the main drag, wearing orange vests and carrying sticks? A variety of folks were out in their orange vests, carrying the pick up sticks to pick up litter.

The Whitmire Economic Development Board members organized a Day Of Service — “Polishing The Pearl.” The town clean up day, as it was casually called, brought former residents, civic groups like The Whitmire Jaycees, members of the Whitmire Community School faculty and students, members from Freedom Baptist Church of Newberry and local business owners. The volunteers wore donated bright orange vests, as they used the picker upper sticks and trash bags from Palmetto Pride.

They walked and picked up trash and debris from various streets like Broome, Satterwhite, the main drag of Church Street through the intersection. At one Church Street location, beside the Little Cricket Store, volunteers from WCS and local residents raked, cleaned, mulched and planted shrubs.

The Economic Board members have stated in public meetings like the town council meetings, “The best way to attract tourism, visitors, new businesses, potential home owners is to clean our town up and beautify various spots that have been neglected in the past few years.”

The old saying goes “Build a Ballpark and the people will come out.” Basically, “get the word out and things will happen” and they did. The board created their Facebook page and made a schedule calendar for their events, and they came.

Whitmire natives and former residents, Rev. Eddie Bledsoe, his sister Marcy Bledsoe Lake and her daughter CJ Lake, a senior Political Science and Communications major at The University Of South Carolina came up for the event and brought another former sponsor’s donation of custom designed Polishing The Pearl t-shirts. CJ took photos and plans to send press releases to several media outlets as part of her class requirements.

Seems that Marcy’s Boss, former Whitmire resident Lenny Rayford, wanted to help his hometown as well. Lenny’s business, Cash Well Consumer Loans, donated the t-shirts with the day of service logo on the front, business name and logo on the back.

According to Marcy, “We hope to do another Day of Service In Whitmire next year and maybe establish a scholarship in Glenn’s name.” Marcy’s brother, the late Glenn Bledsoe, died in a tragic auto accident several years ago, was always involved in service and helping others.

It was a beautiful site to see WCS teachers and students working together outside of the school for a common goal of clean up. Teachers Theresa Boland, April Latham and Jonathan Floyd walked together as a trio. They all stated, “We want to give back to the town, because the town and its people have given so much to us.”

Down the street from the faculty members, The Whitmire Memorial Library was a site focused on as Economic Board member Jeff Vandegraft gave a fresh coat of paint to the Visitor’s Information & Community Announcement Board on the west side of the building.

While Jeff painted, other Economic Board members also participated. Wendy Cranford led a group of student volunteers and Jamala Wallace and her brother Anthony, Misty Collier and her family members all pitched in to do what ever needed to be done, meanwhile

The Whitmire Jaycees set up a lunch serving table at the Heritage Park Picnic Shelter, where they served every volunteer hot pizza and cold bottled water.

Most all of the volunteers said they “would do this again, because the best things were the smiles from Satterwhite Street residents, who came out of their homes to say ‘Thank You for cleaning up out neighborhood streets.’”

Yep, it was the gratitude and appreciation from residents that definitely put the “Gleaming Polish On The Pearl” at Whitmire’s Day Of Service.