Make a difference day - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Make a difference day

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC)--Make a difference day inspires millions of Americans to reach out and do something nice. Saturday, residents of Rochester spent their mornings raking leaves for the elderly and disabled.

Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors (SMAR) sponsors Rochester's annual one day event where volunteers clean the outside of 30 to 40 houses. Over 120 showed up to lend a hand.

Former SMAR president, Eric Brownlow says, "We've got members from banks, we have members from churches, even had a bunch of kids from Lourdes show up and help us."

Leaves and debris are raked into piles, bagged up, and used for mulch and compost. A process that takes anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes for each house.

Volunteers split up into 6 teams working in all four quadrants of the city for the fastest and most effective way to reach every person that signs up for the help.

Margaret Heis says most of the people that sign up for the raking have been in their houses for years and it is hard for them to take care of the yard themselves.

Heis has been helping since the rake day started 12 years ago and gets to see first hand what her volunteering does. Heiss says, "They are so grateful and tell me that is has helped them be able to stay in their houses a little longer."

The kids also said volunteering makes them stronger in more than one way. Kallie Brownlow explains, "It teaches you not to be selfish and giving back to the people who don't have the time."

Tiana Braaten says,  "It's nice to see the environment clean and just help people that need it."

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