DECATUR — Not many would spend their Saturday mornings cleaning up someone else’s neighborhood. However, if you know 12-year-old Nolan Evans, you might find yourself doing just that.
On a recent Saturday, Nolan was able to gather cleaning supplies and about 10 volunteers for Nolan’s Community Cleanup Day. With the support of the city, the group walks down a Decatur street removing garbage and debris from public areas.
“Let’s clean up the community,” Nolan cheered as part of his pep talk before the latest cleanup day.
The activity may take up to two hours, but the volunteers seem to enjoy the time.
Nolan’s aunt, Se Evans, couldn’t resist her nephew’s request to help during the latest cleanup day. “He has a super personality,” she said. “He is a super soul. The type of personality that is mission-oriented.”
The community project is only one of Nolan’s activities designed to help his city. “That is how he has always been,” Se Evans said. “He has always asked the questions like ‘How can I improve humanity?’ ‘How can I help the world?’ "
The volunteers are not taken aback by Nolan’s age. “There’s no age that’s too young,” Se Evans said about organizing similar projects. “You can still leave a mark.”
Nolan said he was searching for an idea to help his community when he found Summer of Service, a community service campaign designed around teenagers and their projects.
To get others involved, Nolan contacted all his friends and family to join him.
“I just started calling them,” he said.
One of the first areas to receive Nolan’s care was near Krekel's Dairy Maid on East Main St. For his most recent clean-up day, the crowd of people, adults and children, gathered in the lot behind the CVS Pharmacy on Cantrell Street.
Getting people to join the fun is only part of the process. Supplies are also needed. Nolan was able to convince others to help provide garbage bags, trash pickers and gloves.
“I contacted many businesses and organizations,” Nolan said. “I also put fliers up at PT Barbecue and gas stations.”
Nolan’s father Glen King was one of the volunteers ready to gather garbage. “Nolan had a vision to help the community,” King said. “He is a child of many interests.”
The Stephen Decatur eighth-grader’s other activities include computers, singing, acting and electronics. “He is a man of many traits,” his father said. “Anything he wants to do, we’ll be there to support him.”
Cleaning up Decatur neighborhoods is nothing new to Nolan. The 12-year-old and his mother Shanina Evans have often spent a Saturday morning walking around the city simply picking up garbage. “We wanted to go early to pick up the trash,” she said about their Saturday morning activity. “And we’ld just pick a street.”
Prairie Avenue Christian Church pastor Jason Butterick joined the most recent cleanup day. The church’s neighborhood has benefited from Nolan’s labor. “We appreciated Nolan’s volunteerism and help,” Butterick said. “We were out there for about two hours.”
Along with aunts, uncles and preachers, Nolan has convinced children to join him, including his 11-year-old brother Glen King III. The work day can be a bit of a scavenger hunt, he said. “There’s lots of cardboard and bottles,” Glen said. “But I found a shiny rock.”
Plans for future cleanup days are uncertain. “Hopefully more people will come out to help clean up Decatur,” Shanina Evans said. “It’s a great community. Why not clean it up?”
Nolan’s desire to help the community is contagious.
“He is a future mayor,” said Nolan’s uncle Malcolm Shavers.
Convincing friends and family to join the cleanup days wasn’t difficult for Nolan. “He wants to help,” Shavers said. “He wants to change this community.”
Shavers has listened to his nephew as he thinks of inventions and other creative ideas. Computer games are often part of his inventions. Shavers recently learned Nolan invented his own cotton candy machine for his class.
“He wants to make the world a better place,” Shavers said. “His heart is bigger than him.”
Photos: A look at Krekel's through the years
Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR
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