BUFFALO, NY -- Channel 2 joined people across the country for the 25th annual "Make A Difference Day" on October 22, 2016.
Channel 2, with around 30 volunteers, helped the organization Grassroots Gardens of Western New York. Grassroots Gardens is an agency that sponsors community gardens in areas lacking fresh, healthy produce for residents.
Gerldine Wilson, the garden manager at the Victoria Avenue Community Garden where Channel 2 volunteers worked, said the garden brings the neighborhood around it together and it is the volunteers that help keep it going.
"We initially started our garden because we're in what we call a food desert," Wilson explained. "Not really any fresh produce within walking distance. Now it's turned into so much more. We're able to provide families with fresh vegetables. We have kids that come to this garden almost daily."
Volunteers on Saturday helped install a pathway, a compost bin, rain barrels and some raised flower beds in preparation for the winter.
Wilson said the garden feeds the community around it both physically and emotionally. Wilson, herself, is legally blind and has experienced health and family hardships in her life. She said she has seen therapists to work through it all but the garden has done more for her than any counseling session ever did.
"It turned into a place of therapy," Wilson said. "It turned into a place of counseling. We had people who have injuries to themselves that didn't think they were going to be able to work at a garden that are here."
With a willingness to get just a little dirty, the garden offers solace and also socializing. Part of the concept behind Grassroots Gardens is that it brings the community around it together.
Wilson said that even her neighbors who speak other languages connect at the garden. She calls it the language of dirt.
"People are talking to each other, where they normally would not talk to each other because they wouldn't have any common ground," Wilson explained.
Wilson said she ran a block club for 10 years and never saw progress in the community like she has seen from the garden.
"Make a Difference Day" is one of the largest annual single-days of service in the country. Around the nation, millions give of their time and of themselves to help others each year.
Make a Difference day might be just one day of the year, but the difference being made can be seen every day.
Volunteers are always needed at Grassroots Gardens many locations. To find a volunteer project in your community, check out: www.grassrootsgardens.org/