Rain didn’t stop Make a Difference Day

By J. DANIEL CLOUD,

­The overnight rain and strong early morning winds on Saturday, Oct. 26, did not stop Hattiesburg residents from participating in Make a Difference Day.

Events scheduled for the day were postponed, with most moving from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., allowing the rain and wind to calm, but people still showed up in force to help prettify the city.

Samantha McCain, Hattiesburg’s chief communications officer, said on Tuesday that she couldn’t verify how many people actually showed up to work on Saturday, but that in the past few years the turnout “has grown exponentially.”

“I can tell you that we had 29 registered teams, with more than 400 people signed up to work on a variety of projects around Hattiesburg this year,” McCain said. “We’re still collecting information, because there were so many groups working around the city. But last year we had 16 registered teams, and about 200 volunteers, and we approximately doubled that this year.

“We knew that rescheduling it would make a lot of people hard-pressed for time. We are very grateful for everyone who showed up to truly make a difference for Hattiesburg.”

The group I chose to join was sponsored by WUSM, our local radio station (88.5 on your FM dial). The advertisement said that the “Hub City Green Machine” would be hitting the streets. WUSM is how I heard about the event, so it made sense. The free T-shirt was welcome as well, even though it was covered up by a neon vest for safety’s sake.

There were about 20 people in our group, tasked with picking up trash along 4th Street and the Longleaf Trace between the University of Southern Mississippi and Hattiesburg High School.

Because I chose that group, I got to hang out for a few minutes with Wilbur Martin, AKA “Mean Willie Green,” general manager of WUSM. If you’ve listened to that station for more than a day, you’ve heard him. If you haven’t, get on it. He knows music, especially the blues.

While approximately 20 volunteers collected trash along the road, Nkrumah Frazier, the city’s chief sustainability officer, drove a truck dragging a trailer, stopping at the many cross streets that bisect Fourth Street and the bike path. In some places, the two are separated by only a few feet of grass and some street lights.

The “Hub City Green Machine” will, in theory, continue to target an area around Hattiesburg for clean-up about once a month, according to Mean Willie Green. I’m inclined to believe him on this, as I do when he recommends music.

It seems Make a Difference Day doesn’t have to be a once-a-year event. Listen in for more details, and I’ll see you at the next clean-up.