JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Make a Difference Day is the largest volunteering day of the year.
Gannett, the parent company of First Coast News, is a strong proponent of Make a Difference Day.
For more than 20 years, Gannett's USA WEEKEND Magazine has mobilized millions of people across the country for this national day of volunteering.
Saturday dozens of First Coast News employees teamed up to impact lives of those who live and work on Naval Station Mayport.
Kristen Hollinga-Kalil and about 150 volunteers were busy.
During the week, Hollinga-Kalil works at First Coast news as a sales account executive. However, Saturday she was clearing brush at Naval Station Mayport as part of Make a Difference Day.
"This particular project means a lot to me because I'm a military brat," Hollinga-Kalil said. "I spent my whole life growing up on military bases."
She and the 150 volunteers trimmed trees and cleared brush around Lake Wonderwood on Naval Station Mayport. The goal is to create a continuous path around the 22 acre lake, making a recreational place for families.
Sharon Ellis said there will be a playground, pavilions, and fitness station.
Captain Wes McCall said, "It'll be just a nice place for sailors and our families to come out and relax after a hard day's work."
40 First Coast News employees like Ken Amaro and producer Erika Adolphus teamed up with employees from CSX and a group called True Blue: Navy Families Benefactors to work on the project.
Sharon Ellis is the president of True Blue. She was impressed with how many people helped, how many dumpsters were loaded, and how quickly the brush was cleared which ultimately showed off the lake.
"It did make a difference," Ellis beamed. "And it will make a difference in the lives of the navy sailors and their families. I love it!"
And Hollinga-Kalil was thrilled to be helping a group so close to her heart. "It's just really special to give back. It's cool to be ale to help out fellow brats," she smiled.
First Coast News