Photo by Sean Marie Long
Kaylee Graham
Photo by Sean Marie Long
Kaylee Graham
FLORENCE — The City of Florence wrapped up its second annual “Power of Florence Day.” Teams of volunteers filled bags with trash, weeded the entrance at Siuslaw Elementary School and prepped the new raised garden beds at Florence Food Share with manure and soil.

The Power of Florence Day is the culmination of the power of one. Kaylee Graham, a 12-year-old youth group member at St. Mary, Our Lady of the Dunes Parish, drummed up the idea last year. Kaylee wanted to organize a volunteer camp.

Instead, her mother suggested a one day event. When Kaylee’s mother asked whom she wanted to invite, the girl wanted the entire community. The non-plussed mother suggested she talk to city council.

Kaylee presented a speech to the Florence Area Coordinating Council. Councilors liked her idea so much they named the third Saturday of every July, “The Power of Florence Day” — a day celebrating community service.

On July 21, hundreds of volunteers and visitors tackled 38 community service projects including park, beach and highway clean-ups, school beautifications and fundraisers.

Area nonprofits set up a community information center in the parking lot outside Grocery Outlet on Highway 101. Boy Scout Troop 710 provided pens and paper for their service project, Operation Joyful Heart. The scouts asked residents to write letters of support for military serving overseas.

The Florence Area Humane Society sold hot dogs and hamburgers raising $409 to help with daily operations. Volunteers also collected 900 pounds of dog and cat food while Florence Food Share, which feeds about 500 families each month, collected 1,725 pounds of food.

“This is the Power of Florence," said Karen Lyn, executive director at Florence Food Share. "This is a day set aside for the people to give back to their community. It’s just a day for all of us to help out one way our another. It’s all about giving. I think it’s phenomenal that we have a 12-year-old working to activate an entire community, but it also comes from having phenomenal parents.”

Not only did Kaylee initiate “The Power of Florence Day,” she demonstrates the power of one.

“It doesn’t make a difference how big it is or how many people show up — it’s good to make a difference,” she said.