By Meredith Stutz, WLWT
Hundreds of volunteers from some of Cincinnati's most well-known institutions are volunteering to help beautify a neighborhood in time for the school year.
The Avondale Community Makeover is set to take place at six sites across the neighborhood aimed at sprucing up sites benefitting kids in the area.
For the 10th year, 'Community Makeovers' will bring together a small army of professionals taking time of their day to help enhance educational and recreation sites.
Avondale's makeover project is two years in the making due to COVID delays and restrictions.
On Thursday, 300 volunteers from the Reds, Cincinnati Zoo, Proctor and Gamble and Cincinnati Children's Medical Center will paint, plant, renovate, clean and install new additions to schools, parks and facilities.
Site locations for the day of service include Rockdale Academy, South Avondale Elementary School, Taft Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati, Rockdale/Harvey Ballfield and Park, Blair Ball Fields and Larona Park.
"Every project has a unique outdoor element to it but none of them are as unique as this Urban Learning Garden," Reds Community Fund Executive Director Charley Frank said of the new multi-purpose horticultural center on the campus of Rockdale Academy. "And what this represents in terms of science, nutrition and education and sustainability and opportunity for this kids. To think bigger and dream bigger."
The one-acre garden includes a donated greenhouse, hoop houses, sensory garden, raised beds and thousands of plants. The Cincinnati Zoo says it will provide a full-time staff employee to oversee the garden and its programming.
"A lot of kids in this area have nature deficit disorder," Zoo Horticulturalist Jerome Stenger said. "They don’t have the ability to interact with nature. And this garden is basically bringing this opportunity to the neighborhood."
The Urban Learning Center will also serve as a classroom and gateway to entrepreneurism.
"There's going to be Apple Trees, Cherry Trees and all kids of plants and flowers," Cincinnati Children's Senior Specialist Michelle Hopkins said. "That will be something that the kids can even use to learn about finances because those things will be sold to the community."