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More than 1,500 volunteers beautify area

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Local,Kate Jacobson

Community members and volunteers joined forces to help improve the D.C. area on Saturday as part of the 12th annual Comcast Cares Day.

The day -- sponsored by Comcast and the non-profit City Year Washington D.C. -- brought some 1,500 volunteers out on Saturday to all parts of the area to help clean up streams, beautify schools and collect clothing.

The Greater Washington contingent was just part of the 70,000 volunteers worldwide who participate in the day of service.

In D.C., Comcast employees and members of City Year worked with community members and students to beautify Neval Thomas Elementary School and Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy near Benning. Volunteers were charged with painting murals, constructing benches and cleaning up the grounds of the school. Comcast also gave both schools a $12,500 grant.

In Maryland, crews cleaned up the Anacostia Watershed in Prince George's County. In Virginia, they built vegetable gardens and constructed benches in Alexandria.

Jeff Franco, executive director of City Year Washington D.C., said his group and representatives of Comcast helped select sites that would benefit from the community's efforts. The nationwide non-profit City Year is focused on education issues and connects children to community service and helps them stay in school. This is the tenth year Comcast has partnered with the group for the event.

Franco said the two schools near Benning were part of the D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative, which are neighborhoods dedicated to creating stronger educational environments in communities. The non-profit worked for six to eight weeks preparing the sites for volunteers.

He said seeing all the people come out on Saturday on their free time was humbling to him.

"They're participating together to make this a better place," he said. "It's really the personification of [the saying] 'it takes a village.'"

Comcast Corp. Executive Vice President David Cohen came down to Cesar Chavez Public Charter School and greeted volunteers as they stained newly constructed benches for the school.

"I was profoundly humbled," he said of the slew of volunteers being put to work. "In order to be a successful company, you have to give to the community."

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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