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Published: Wednesday, 10/18/2006

Holland event will circle town to fight use of drugs

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A ribbon of people will wrap around the village of Holland on Saturday as area residents stand up and show their support for a drug-free lifestyle.

Formally called Ribbon 'Round the Community, the event is sponsored by the Springfield Holland Assets Partnership for Excellence, or SHAPE, with involvement from Springfield Township; the village of Holland; Springfield Schools, and the American Legion Holland post, said C.J. Nelson, the program's director.

Community residents are being asked to participate by taking a pledge to be drug-free; after signing pledge cards during registration between 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday, participants will be assigned a number that corresponds with a wooden stake along the Red Ribbon 'Round the Community loop.

More than 150 wooden stakes will mark the loop. Then participants will be asked to stand next to the stakes - painted red by SHAPE volunteers - to create "a visual representation of how our community has come together to take a stand against drugs," Ms. Nelson said.

As a way to give back to the community at the same time, participants are being asked to bring at least one nonperishable food item when they register.

When they go to their designated stakes, they will take the food items. Then between 2 and 3 p.m., SHAPE volunteers and community leaders will go along the ribbon route and pick up the food items.

At 3 p.m., participants will pick up their stakes and return to the registration area for a reception and refreshments.

Ms. Nelson said the food items will be presented to two local food pantries, Open Dorr Family Resource Center, located at Dorr Elementary School, andthe American Legion Holland post's food pantry.

The registration area will be set up in front of the bays of the old fire station behind the village of Holland administrationbuilding at 1245 Clarion Ave. In case of inclement weather, registration would be in the old fire station

This month, communities nationwide are participating in the 21st annual Red Ribbon Month. Red ribbons symbolize unity against illicit drug use and to celebrate those who have pledged to live drug-free.

Nicole Stempak, a SHAPE student coordinator, said SHAPE works closely with businesses, local officials, and the Springfield Board of Education on the Red Ribbon event.

"We are trying to involve as many people from the community as possible," said Nicole, a Sprinfield High School senior. "Our goal is for students to see that there are many members in the community who are living a drug-free lifestyle."

Springfield Schools Superintendent Cynthia Beekley said the Ribbon 'Round the Community project "is a wonderful visual representation of the strong support that the Springfield community gives to substance abuse prevention and to the support for SHAPE and for Springfield Schools."

SHAPE was incorporated in 2001 as a nonprofit, community coalition to cultivate values such as self-esteem, honesty, and caring in area youth. The organization has sponsored a number of activities.



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