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Sycamore middle-schooler inspires Kids Work Day

SYCAMORE – All it took for Olivia Cloat to help improve her community was to write a letter to the mayor.

When the Sycamore Middle School student was in the fourth grade, she came up with an idea for a citywide community service event and wrote a proposal to Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy. She was inspired by the Park Pride Day volunteer events held by the Sycamore Park District. 

Not only did Mundy respond, he came to her home to deliver his reply in person. 

“I think he liked the idea, and he thought it was good,” she said.

Mundy worked with city officials, local businesses and local service clubs to make Olivia’s idea a reality. This Saturday will be the first Sycamore Kids Work Day event, where children of any age are encouraged to help clean up the city for the 52nd annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival. 

“We’re very happy for Olivia and her idea and real happy to have the first [Sycamore Kids Work Day],” Mundy said.

Participants are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. at Elm and Somonauk streets and split up into chaperoned groups that will pick up trash throughout the city and store it in bags. When the task is finished, the participants can bring the bags back and earn a kid’s meal coupon that is redeemable at 11 area restaurants. They can also get a free T-shirt. 

Mundy said the cleanup effort will first focus on the parade route for the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival, which begins Oct. 23 and concludes Oct. 27. The route includes Somonauk Street, California Street, State Street and South Main Street.

Olivia said she thinks it’s cool to see her idea put into motion and she plans on helping out with the cleanup effort Saturday. Her father, Max Cloat, said he was proud of her and knew she was surprised by how the idea for the event took off.

“I think it’s great you could take a little germ of an idea and have it come to pass just through grass-roots activism,” he said.

Jeff Keicher, Sycamore Rotary Club president, said the club feels it’s important to give back to the community, which is why the club is one of seven sponsors for the event. 

“This is a natural outgrowth for our organization to help support the mission of the youth in our town to give back,” he said. 

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