Helping keep their community clean
The Barnhart family cleaned up the Winchester parking lot on Sun., April 25. The group led by dad Blake Barnhart has been spending their weekends helping to clean up different locations in Winchester. Here, left to right are Cassidy, Kailey, Blake and Landen Barnhart getting ready to start their day behind the Winchester Foodland building. Absent is mom Sarah. Morin Photo

WINCHESTER – It’s nice to want your community to be clean, but sometimes keeping it nice means getting out and doing something to make it that way.

Blake Barnhart and his family have decided to take matters in their own hands and have been going out on weekends cleaning up garbage from their community.

The decision to clean his community came about after Barnhart noticed a posting on Facebook from a Winchester resident.

“A lady was walking down Gypsy Lane in Winchester and she noticed a whole bunch of garbage out there, so she went and posted it online, and I am on her feed on What’s Up Winchester. So I took it upon myself to go down there with garbage bags to clean it up,” said Barnhart.

He grew up in Winchester and has four children.

“We used to drive our four-wheelers that way, and I did not like the looks of it and I wanted to be a good influence on the kids and show them that sometimes you have to sacrifice your own time to do the right thing, even though it’s not your problem.”

He posted his plan to clean the area up on Facebook. “I put a little post online saying I have garbage bags and gloves, and does anybody want to help?”

North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser and his wife Amy came to help.

The next location to clean up was at Tim Hortons.

“That turnout was a quite a bit bigger. I think there was maybe ten of us.”

Barnhart turned his attention to the LCBO on Winchester’s Main Street.

“That was a good turnout too for there as well,” he said.

This past Sun., April 25, with a light drizzle starting to come down, Blake and his children surveyed the Winchester Foodland parking lot, planning their strategy for the day’s clean up.

“Dan Pettigrew (owner of Foodland) called me personally. He wanted to make sure we have no insurance issues. I am making sure there are only adults in ditches, and everyone has boots and safety helmets. He also said, I can have as many garbage bags and as much water as we need for every job that we do.”

Barnhart said Pettigrew told him, “If you guys are going to clean up the community, I will give you what you need.”

The response for each clean up project has been positive.

“If there is more than one family, I make sure they are separated. There is lots of room for everyone with lots of distance between groups,” said Barnhart.

The community has noticed what the Barnhart family is doing.

When they were cleaning up the area around the Tim Hortons’ drive thru, drivers waiting for their orders donated gift cards for the people picking up the garbage.

Barnhart feels the clean up project is a healthy activity for his children. “It’s a good learning situation for them,” he said.

“When they get older, they will understand that there are consequences to what you do. The kids are proud to be helping clean up. And that is a good thing to instill. I am hoping to influence other people to do the same thing.”