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Sun shines as Keuka College, community team up on public service

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It looked for a while like volunteers might need to add snow shovels to their toolkits this year as they prepared for the annual Celebrate Service…Celebrate Yates community service project.

But Sunday’s activities even drew the sun out of seclusion. The temperatures rose into the 60s and the volunteer count reached 263 as scores of Keuka College students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends fanned out across Yates County for an afternoon of giving back.

“I enjoy helping out in my community, and doing it with friends makes it fun,” said Penn Yan Academy student Jenna Curbeau as she helped clean classrooms and other areas of the Dundee Baptist Church.

Also enjoying their work were Keuka College students Amanda Sabins ’19 and Amanda Utter ’19, who helped build picnic tables and make other improvements along the Keuka Outlet Trail.

“As a social work major, I am able to get out into the community, which I like,” said Amanda Sabins. “I am also a bit of an environmentalist, so with today being Earth Day, this was important to me. And being placed on the Outlet Trail was the perfect place for me.”

Added Amanda Utter: “Students use the trail often, so I’m glad we get to help keep it nice.”

The 21st installment of the longtime Keuka College-Yates County Chamber of Commerce collaborative event saw volunteers tackle countywide service projects ranging from clearing hiking trails to cleaning fire trucks.

Through the years, the annual event has brought together an estimated 5,000 individuals donating thousands of collective hours of community service.

This year’s countywide contingent included Elaina Thomas, who was part of the KanPac dairy company’s corporate team, which volunteered for the first time Sunday. Their eight members performed cleanup work at the Italy Valley Cemetery, one of more than two dozen local sites that benefited from Day of Service attention. 

“We had been talking about getting a group together to get out in the community when I saw a Facebook post [about volunteering for CSCY] and thought ‘Sweet! Let’s do this!’” said Elaina, who added that community service has long been important to her. “There’s a group of us interested in doing more. We want to get involved and assist in the community and get the KanPac name out there.”

Her 7-year-old daughter, Ava, enjoyed giving high fives to Keuka College’s mascot, Kacey the Wolf, during the check-in time. 

“We’re going to help pick up ‘garbages,’” said Ava.

Another eight-member team, this one from Yates County 4-H, served at the Branchport/Keuka Park Fire Department site in Branchport.

“Community service is a big part of what 4-H does, so that’s why we decided to get involved,” said team leader Tammi Jo Swearingen. “Plus, I think the kids really like washing the fire trucks, especially when the weather warms up like this.”

Over at the Yates County Arts Center’s Sunny Point outpost along the east shore of the Keuka Lake, volunteers from the Bank of the Finger Lakes – also a corporate sponsor of Celebrate Service…Celebrate Yates – installed screens on the lodge windows.

"We want to get more involved in the community, and events like this—it's just good stuff," said bank President Mike Briggs, noting that a new branch office opened last June in Penn Yan. “It’s fun to be outside, fun to be with the team, and fun to be doing something good.”

The CSCY Planning Team wishes to thank the following local merchants and businesses for their support as sponsors for this year's event: American Legion Post 355, AVI Fresh, Bank of the Finger Lakes, Camp Good Days & Special Times, Climbing Bines Hop Farm & Brewery, Finger Lakes Community Health, ​Finger Lakes Auto, Truck & Marine (NAPA), ​Fitzgerald Brothers, Five Star Bank, Graphic Connections, Keuka College Office of Community Relations & Events, Office of Student Affairs and Student Senate, Knapp & Schlappi, Keuka Restaurant, Long's Cards and Books, Lyons National Bank, Morgan's Grocery, Paw Print Services, Phelps Sungas, Penn Yan Elks Lodge #1722, Penn Yan Community Health, Penn Yan Loyal Order of Moose #2030, Penn Yan Kiwanis Club, Seneca Farms, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital, Stork Insurance Agency, Tony Collins '77 Celebrity Golf Classic Foundation, and Walmart Stores of Geneva and Watkins Glen. 


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