Charitable event with a real bang

After you’ve been a journalists for several decades, you start to feel like you’ve seen it all, that there’s nothing that could happen in your town that you haven’t seen before.

Well, on Monday something happened in Elkins that I’d never seen before. And here’s the best part — it was actually a positive thing!

The Davis & Elkins College Athletic Department officially kicked off the 2017-18 academic year on Monday evening by completing a major service project with the cleaning up and beautification of downtown Elkins.

More than 300 Senators student athletes from 19 sports organized in front of City Hall to kick off the event.

Mayor Van Broughton addressed the athletes and presented D&E Athletics and Athletic Director Jamie Joss with a key to the city.

It was quite a sight, when I arrived at City Hall about 6:15 p.m. Monday, to witness a sea of red-shirted individuals, 300-strong, waiting for the ceremony to begin and to get started cleaning up downtown.

Spirits were high when Mayor Broughton spoke, as did Joss and Councilman Marilyn Counzo, and then the team captains fired a cannon — a tiny but very loud one — in front of City Hall to symbolize the beginning of the D&E school year.

This gathering of charity-minded athletes did not go unnoticed. As I was taking photos of the ceremony, car after car driving past City Hall paused to ask what was going on.

“Three-hundred D&E athletes are going to help clean up downtown,” I told each curious driver.

I received a chorus of “Awesome!,” “That’s great!” and “Good deal!” responses as they drove away.

After the ceremony, the athletes broke up into groups — determined by the sport they play — and walked off to their designated areas, where they picked up trash and did their best to spruce up the town.

The volleyball squad stayed at City Hall, pulling weeds and trimming shrubs, even sweeping the sidewalks.

Charisse Mitchell and Karlie Richardson pulled several tall weeds — they were actually the size of saplings — around the corner of City Hall. Mitchell jokingly scolded Richardson, telling her to be careful and not kill any bugs while they were working.

“I’m not about violence,” Mitchell said.

A moment later, Mitchell gave a mighty yank on a huge weed, bringing it out of the ground with a lurch and accidentally whapping her teammate Alexa Smarra with it in the process.

Everyone got a good laugh, then it was back to work.

Both Broughton and Joss said the athletes enjoyed the event and the work they did, and Joss said another service event is planned for the spring.

Here’s hoping it’s as successful as Monday’s.

Everyone involved with the event deserves praise.

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