EATONTON, Ga. — More than 240 cadets from Georgia Military College in Milledgeville recently did something special to help residents in a neighboring county.
Loaded onto a couple of GMC buses, the cadets embarked on a trip to Eatonton in Putnam County.
For several hours, the cadets participated in a cleanup day.
The hard work of the cadets, which reaped them community service credits, was recognized by local and state government leaders.
State Sen. Rick Williams, who attended the Saturday, April 15, event addressed cadets at the Veterans Wall of Honor in downtown Eatonton.
“I think this is a prime example of the character that GMC is instilling into their students and cadets,” Williams said. “These young cadets came here and worked together as a team here in Eatonton and Putnam County and made a big difference in just half a day.”
Williams (R-Milledgeville) said it was amazing and inspiring.
“It’s something that I wish every young person could experience,” Williams said. “It’s like one big happy family with everybody working together and pulling together and showing just what teamwork can accomplish.”
Putnam County Commission Chairman Bill Sharp was also complimentary of what the cadets did.
“For so long, I believe our city, the county and the lakes have been separated,” Sharp said. “And my goal is to help bring us together. I want us to work together so we can create a better place to live and work.”
Sharp said he wanted to see the city prosper just like the county.
“I’m not out here campaigning to do anything more than to find ways for all of us to work together,” Sharp said. “My overall goal is to make this a better place to live.”
He said he was so pleased to have so many cadets come over from Milledgeville to help.
“I’ve never spoken to more than 200 kids before where I didn’t see one cellphone out or anyone being disrespectful in any way,” Sharp said. “I saw a group of kids really interested in improving their lives and a community.”
Eatonton Mayor John Reid was also on hand to watch as the cadets.
“I can’t say enough about what these young people did in our community, and we deeply appreciate it,” Reid said.
For many years, Eatonton has attracted tourists from around the world. They enjoy the rich history and charm of the town, as well as many famous sites. One such site includes Uncle Remus Museum and other historical places.
Eatonton also is the birthplace of Alice Walker, who became a world-renowned author. She is famous for having written the novel, “The Color Purple.”
“We continue to attract a lot of tourists here,” Reid said.
That’s where pride comes into play.
“We need to show that pride by making sure that when people come to Eatonton to visit, they leave here with a good image in their minds as to what our city is all about,” Reid said.
The mayor said having the GMC cadets come to Eatonton was a wonderful gesture.
Reid said the project was first presented to Eatonton City Council last October.
“I am really impressed with how they presented their project idea and saw it to reality,” Reid said. “It was a good experience for them to learn how to put a plan together and then activate that plan.”
Reid said he hoped that some of the residents of Eatonton learned some things from the cadets’ cleanup project.
“I hope they learned that this is what we need to do in our community at all times,” the mayor said. “We need to show that we care and that we take pride in how our city is portrayed by others who come here and visit.”
For the past several years, Eatonton has held a cleanup day.
“We’ve done this for years,” Reid said, noting that local residents would participate in picking up trash in various places where trash had been thrown out.
Normally when that kind of event is held in the community, members of Boy Scout troops and other organizations help lead the way.
“Afterward, we always host a cookout to show our gratitude for what they have done to make our city more beautiful,” Reid said.
Charles Trumbo, who serves on the board of directors of the GMC Alumni Association, said he and Courtney Atkinson, who serves as the executive secretary for the colonel of cadets, worked together to help spearhead the cleanup day in Eatonton and Putnam County.
“We chose Eatonton this year because it's never been done here before,” Trumbo said. “In the past, it’s always been done in Milledgeville or Madison.”
An alumnus of GMC, Trumbo said he spoke up and asked that it be done in Eatonton.
His suggestion was met with support from other board members, and thus it became a reality.
Trumbo said he and Atkinson met with cadet representatives who later devised a plan for the cleanup trash day.
“We then came up with a plan and executed it,” Trumbo said, noting it was overwhelmingly approved by the mayor and members of Eatonton City Council. “We began work on this project last October.”
Trumbo said he was “very proud” of the cadets and how well things went in Eatonton and other parts of Putnam County.