By Amanda Ensinger
Volunteers who coordinate the annual National Night Out celebration in Franklin Township say they need help if residents want the event to take place.
At a recent Franklin Township board meeting, Linda Mercer from the Westbrook and Eastfield Neighborhood Association discussed the issue the group is having.
“Normally the Westbrook and Eastfield Neighborhood Association puts this event on, but this year we don’t have enough people involved to organize it,” Mercer said. “We really want to have it this year, but we need the community’s help to make that happen.”
National Night Out is an annual event that takes place in communities across the country on the first Tuesday of August. The crime prevention event aims to educate communities about local police programs and encourages anti-crime efforts. Some of the programs that are typically highlighted at National Night Out events include drug prevention efforts, local block watches and other local police efforts.
This year would be the 20th year the event has taken place in the township, something that is very important to event founder Juanita Kaufman.
Kaufman is now in her 90s and brought this event to the community. She also serves as the president of the Westbrook and Eastfield Neighborhood Association. She is so beloved in the township, they even created an award after her. The Juanita Kaufman Award is an annual award that celebrates one community member for their dedication to enriching Franklin Township.
“In 2008 the trustees decided as a thank you for how much I have done for the township, they would create an award in my honor,” Kaufman said. “Community members would have to nominate someone that has gone above and beyond to enhance Franklin Township. If multiple people are nominated the trustees would pick one person to receive the award.”
Each year a different person is chosen and the same person cannot win the award more than once. Kaufman presents the award to the recipient during a ceremony at National Night Out.
National Night Out organizers want to keep the tradition going, not just for the community, but for Juanita, and need help to do so.
“This year will be the 20th year, so that is really special to Juanita,” Mercer said. “We want to make this happen for her, but we can’t do it alone.”
Organizers created a chart of positions they still need filled and have posted it in the Franklin Township meeting hall, located at 2193 Frank Road. A few of the positions they need filled are parking lot monitors, people that will call and pickup donations, food servers, people to work the sign in table and people to monitor the games.
The township’s fire and police departments have said they would help. Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith is also asking area block watches to pitch in.
The Westbrook and Eastfield Neighborhood Association hopes to have the chart almost completely filled by April and encourages people to sign up to help as soon as possible.
To learn more about how you can donate or help with the 20th annual National Night Out, visit www.franklin-township.com.