As temperatures climbed into the 60s Saturday afternoon, Lafayette's Kathleen and Michael Corcoran were busy stooping down... to pick up abandoned dog waste near the shores of Viele Lake at Harlow Platts Park in south Boulder.
The Corcorans were among 19 volunteers who gathered at the park to hoist pooper-scoopers and stretch plastic bags over their hands in an effort to clean up dogs' leavings at the park. The group, which also collected some wayward trash, nearly filled two 32-gallon trash bags with waste over two hours Saturday.
The event, organized by neighborhood resident Alexis Lee, was one of dozens of volunteer opportunities in Boulder County Saturday in conjunction with the National Day of Service, a movement launched by President Barack Obama's inaugural committee that included thousands of volunteers in all 50 states.
The Corcorans, of Lafayette, say they often do community service work through the Unity of Boulder Spiritual Center and elsewhere. They were alerted to various volunteer events via an email from the Inaugural committee.
"That is what we need to do as human beings is help each other," Kathleen Corcoran said of the couple's commitment to volunteering. "Even though we are seeing fit to help people who can't pick up after their own dog."
Event organizer Lee, 56, lives about a block away from Harlow Platts Park and said she has spent much time there after growing up nearby and attending Fairview High School. Part of her inspiration for launching the event was visiting the park around the holidays and seeing a large amount of dog droppings that had not been picked up -- made more obvious by freshly fallen snow.
Lee said Saturday that she could not have been more pleased with the volunteer response and turnout.
"When I stated I thought, 'Am I going to get anybody?'" she said. "But the confirmations kept coming in. This is awesome. I'm so excited."Another motivating factor for Lee, and many of the other volunteers Saturday, was a love of dogs.
Lee operates a foster rehabilitation program out of home in conjunction with the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, named Henry's Way Station. She takes in fearful dogs or dogs otherwise not well suited to stay at the shelter and cares for them until they are ready for adoption. Thirty-eight dogs have come through her home since August 2011, Lee said, and she is working on number 39, a Chihuahua with an amputated front right leg named Mushroom, available for adopting now on the Humane Society website.
"It's a beautiful park, and for me it's important for the waste to be picked up because it is a health risk for other dogs," Lee said.
She noted the cleanup event was also the right thing to do, to show respect to the families with young children and other users of the park.
Lee cleared Saturday's cleanup event with Boulder Parks and Recreation and received support from the Boulder Police Department's animal control section.
Three animal control officers stopped by the park to help with the cleanup efforts, including Office Teri Hamilton.
"I think it's fantastic," Hamilton said of the volunteer work. "It's the worst thing when people can't pick up after their pets. It's a simple responsibility and it's a health hazard for people and other animals."
Hamilton noted that certain bacteria like Clostridium, known to cause diarrhea in dogs, may be transferred if one animal even smells the waste of another already carrying it.
Mike Walton and his wife Gina Iannelli helped out Saturday after learning about the event on the National Day of Service website.
"I just thought the forecast looked good so it'd be a good day to be outside doing something for the parks," Walton said.
Last summer the couple had to put down their Border collie, Tango, after 15 years. Walton said he and Iannelli's love of dogs also motivated them to volunteer.
"We are definitely dog lovers, even if we have to pick up after them," he said and he scooped another pile of waste into a plastic bag. "This is part of my skill set."
Other Boulder-area volunteer events that were part of the National Day of Service included a moving day at ALLY Youth Services.
The organization, dedicated to aiding homeless and at-risk youth ages 24 and under, recently lost its lease at the First Baptist Church located at the corner of 13th and Pine Streets in downtown Boulder.
Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, about 25 volunteers stopped by ALLY's former home to help the nonprofit's staff pack up clothing, food, toiletries and other items and either take them to a storage facility or drop them off as donations at other area support organizations, according to ALLY Executive Director Anna Pirone.
"It was a huge help," Pirone said. "It was done in a couple of hours and it could have taken us all day."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.