ANTIOCH -- Martha Parsons is trickier than she looks.
Sure, she spearheaded the altruistic Keep Antioch Beautiful campaign to help clean up her beloved city, but she had another agenda: Getting residents to volunteer.
"Volunteering and community involvement learned at a young age starts a lifetime of service," Parsons said.
And, she's hoping to get "as many students as possible sign up for their school along with their parents, grandparents." The fifth annual event is April 26, and everyone has a chance to help and benefit.
One of those rallying the troops is John Jimno, principal of Park Middle School. In conjunction with Comcast Cares, he plans to lead the way in giving the older campus some much-needed attention.
"We have volunteers from our school community, including staff, students and parents," he said. "And, we welcome and encourage the Antioch community to participate."
Right now, the school's to-do list includes weeding, planting, laying and compacting gravel, laying ground cover, sprucing up gardens, and an overall campus cleanup removing trash and other unwanted items.
"Our school is in need of some (major) TLC," Jimno said. "This is a great (opportunity) for us. It is these types of events that can become a bridge to more support. It gives students and staff pride in where they spend a majority of their time."
Parsons is happy the event has stayed strong and kept its focus.
"It's very gratifying that the city, our sponsors, our committee and community volunteers continue to support KAB." She's especially pleased with the incentive for schools to win cash prizes.
Antioch campuses can earn money through participation. Volunteers need only write the school's name they want to support on the waiver. Each level -- elementary, middle and high school -- has the chance to win first ($500), second ($300) or third place ($200) awards for the most volunteers checked in at its campus.
"This is a great opportunity to give back to your community while earning money for your child's, grandchild's or neighbor's schools," Parsons said. "The city and the school both benefit.
Parsons is glad to see that other residents are stepping to help throughout the year, specifically the group Cleaning up Antioch, One Home at a Time.
"They do a much-needed service of cleaning up where they can on public property and alerting the proper authorities so private property gets cleaned up as well. It's a win-win." In the last four years, the Keep Antioch Beautiful clean up has had more than 1,500 volunteers and collected more than 30,000 pounds of trash.
This year's event will again be led by Parsons, a former city councilwoman, and Mayor Wade Harper. It runs from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the following sites:
John Muir, Kimball, Mission and Turner elementary schools; Black Diamond Middle School; Antioch City Hall, Hillcrest Park and the Red Caboose Restaurant.
Afterward, a free volunteer thank you lunch will be served at Contra Loma Regional Park.
The event is funded by several businesses and individuals, including the City of Antioch, Antioch Unified School District, Allied Waste, Honeywell, Walmart, Arts and Cultural Foundation of Antioch, NRG Energy, East Bay Regional Parks, Pinky's Klassy Kar Wash, Paintball Park, Paradise Skate, Dick Straub (In Memoriam), Jim Lanter (Antioch State Farm Insurance), Antioch Coin & Jewelry and Central Self Storage of Antioch. Several area groups are pitching in, too: Antioch High and Deer Valley Key Clubs, Antioch Boy Scout troops, Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch, Rivertown Preservation Society and UCBN.
To register, visit art4antioch.org/Keep-Antioch-Beautiful.asp or call 925-779-6137, option 1.
Reach Trine Gallegos at TrineG@att.net