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Volunteers Clean Up Park

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IOWA CITY - Residents of Iowa City not affected by Thursday's tornadoes are starting to help their neighbors. A massive cleanup effort started Tuesday morning in one of the city's many parks.

College Green Park was littered with downed branches, shards of glass and even pieces of a broken record. By the end of the day, most of the debris was in piles for the city to pick up later.

Cleanup started around 10 a.m. on Tuesday with just a few volunteers hoping to make a difference. Volunteer David Rosazza said, "It's overwhelming for a lot of organizations around here, and I think this is just a grassroots effort to get things going."

Like any successful grassroots campaign, word spread quickly. Within an hour, about 40 people were raking the park's lawn, packing trash bags with branches and picking up glass.

Kids also spent the morning helping. They all attend the same private school and used to play at this park. Nine-year-old Clare Lanaghan said, "We're mostly just raking the sticks into a pile and then putting them in a bigger pile."

Clare's teacher Pat Schmidt said, "We came after the storm happened, and the kids wanted to do something. They were feeling really like, 'Ahhh.'"

Some people showed up because they simply wanted to help. Others said the park has important meaning to them. It has been a part of the community for generations. Volunteer Jason Bradley said, "It's a place where we can bring our kids and let them play with each other."

The cleanup project did not take long. Less than two hours in, the volunteers removed enough debris for the kids to use the park like they used to by swinging and going down the slide.

City officials said there is no way to know how many trees were lost from the storm, and replanting efforts are still a ways away. First, the city needs to get homes and people back on track.

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