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FROM WHERE I STAND: When community comes together

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Posted on: November 9, 2023

BY JACLYN BRUNER

We are in a season of change here in College Park. We have experienced a tumultuous year, one that forced us to come together and recommit to being there for each other as neighbors.

We are in a season of change here in College Park. There is construction in just about every direction. It can be a bit overwhelming, but if you keep looking, you’ll see that sense of community somewhere between the orange construction cones. You will; I promise.

One of the best places where you can see this spirit of community thrive are the myriad of events around town, just like the Trunk-or-Treat at Hollywood at the end of October. That event was a moment in which I was reminded just how proud I am to live in such a wonderful community. 

As many of you know, Hollywood Elementary is one of two elementary schools here in College Park. It is a Title I and Community School that serves a large population of non-English speaking families. We have a staff of dedicated and hardworking educators who ensure the children that attend Hollywood are fed, have weather-appropriate clothing and are getting that most important of educational foundations — one that teaches them reading and math, but also to learn responsibility and to value school as a place of community.

But it’s the extras that are hard. They’re hard for all of us, aren’t they? 

In a year of record inflation, with a world that’s returned to full speed after slowing down during COVID-19, the idea of taking on just one more thing can feel insurmountable. 

And as PTA president, I am constantly advocating on behalf of the school and seeking out partners to help ensure Hollywood Elementary is well-resourced and a safe place for our children … and well, I needed to ask just one more extra from my community: to volunteer to host a spot at our first ever Trunk-or-Treat. 

Whoa, did our community come together! From neighbors to local business owners, and with a few parents sprinkled in, our College Park community showed up to give our students, the Hollywood Stars, an afternoon of fun. Our Branchville volunteer firefighters brought an engine, we had a DJ playing tunes, and it was an afternoon where the students and families at Hollywood got to build community with one another, spending time relaxing and enjoying the afternoon. 

But it’s not just who showed up who made this event a success — it’s all those folks who took the time to talk to their neighbors and share our call for volunteers. All those volunteers wouldn’t have been there if not for our community organizations sharing the message with their own networks and vocalizing that our neighborhood school is worth supporting. 

It takes a community to come together — for coat drives, for elections, for farmer’s markets, for our small businesses, and yes, for Trunk-or-Treats. 

In the face of the constant pressures that we face and the anxieties that changes bring, it’s at moments like these, when community comes together, that I’m reminded it is okay to take a pause and take a breath, to ask for help when I need it and to offer help when I can give it. It’s what makes College Park such a wonderful place to live — and why I can’t wait to see you out and about at the next community event.

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