September 12, 2018(Independence, IA) – Independence Jr./Sr. High is planning to kick-off Homecoming week with a volunteer project inspired by “The Good Cemeterian,” a viral service project which focuses on cleaning veteran’s headstones in cemeteries centered in Florida. “We saw this online and thought it was amazing. After we started discussing the Good Cemeterian as a team it came to us: Let’s not just appreciate it. Let’s do this!” Vice Principal Dewey Hupke said. According to Hupke, the school approached the VFW (The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US) to help show students how they can give back to their community. Hupke continued, “We want this to involve everyone in the school community and the City of Independence. Some of our veterans gave everything and this is an opportunity to honor their service and sacrifice and remember them.”
Hupke continued, “All students and staff are invited to participate and learn more about those who have gone before us while cleaning headstones at Oakwood Cemetery. Our students have a history of service to the community. We invite all students the opportunity to participate in this worthwhile community service project.”
The VFW has fully funded the purchase of a 55-gallon drum of environmentally conscious cleaning solution, D-2. Members of the Independence community are invited to participate or even donate to this project. The project has already received assistance and support from Bob Beatty from the City of Independence and Kegler, Kegler & Arend Family Dentistry who will donate toothbrushes to help clean the finer details on headstones around birthdates and names.
“We want our students to give back to a community that supports them and their activities. Members of the VFW will be attending the first round of cleaning on Sunday, September 23, and students will have a chance to interact and learn from veterans right here in Independence, “ Hupke said. While it is not yet finalized, Hupke mentioned that more cleaning days may come up in the future including one in the afternoon during Homecoming week and possibly again in the Spring.
Oakwood Cemetery is the first cleaning location and is the oldest cemetery in Independence, selling its first lot in June 1868. Many former Civil War soldiers were buried there including members of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of former Union Soldiers originally chartered in 1866, according to the Library of Congress. The Oakwood Cemetery officially came under the care of the Independence Parks and Recreations Department in 2015 according to the Buchanan County Historical record.
For students, parents and community members looking to get involved, the projected time for the project is 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm. If you would like to make a donation, you can send money earmarked for the VFW to the school, Roger Allen, or Robert Hughes. Independence CSD will release more information regarding the project specifics as September 23rd approaches.
You can learn more about “The Good Cemeterian,” by visiting the Facebook page. Stay connected to the ICSD by visiting the Independence Community School District website or by liking the Independence Community School District Facebook page. You can also follow Independence VFW Post 2440 on Facebook.