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Volunteers from the West Colfax Community Association (WCCA) and Benefits in Action joined together with students from Jeffco’s McLain High School for an April 15 Clean-up event along West Colfax Avenue. 

Volunteers and organizers met at the Westland Shopping Center parking lot with the mission to bag as much litter as possible along the famous avenue from Miller to Welch Streets, bordering the neighborhoods of Daniels Welchester, Applewood Valley and West Miller Heights. 

This inaugural event kicked off a biannual Clean-Up for Colfax Avenue’s west end. Another clean-up event, spearheaded by the Two Creeks Neighborhood Organization and WCCA in preparation for Colfax Marathon, will take place May 7.

Tamara Orndoff, resource outreach coordinator for Benefits in Action, was onsite to welcome McLean volunteers and help organize the event. She spoke about Benefits in Action’s partnership with the school’s Achieve Leadership program.

“We’ve been working together with McLean High School on a volunteer leadership program. The students have been learning about things like food insecurity, homelessness, health insurance, taxes and how to read labels,” she said. “They’ve been coming to our Denver warehouse once a month to help pack food and then they help deliver it.”

Orndoff said in March, the same student volunteers delivered food to a nearby senior apartment community and then stayed to help residents with simple chores, chat and play games.

She said the group wanted to end the year with a larger community project, so a partnership with WCCA and 40 West Arts District to help clean up Colfax was a perfect fit.

McLean teacher Steve Cram was one of the event’s group leaders. He said he grew up in the area and has seen a lot of changes on Colfax over the years. He said he thinks the opportunity to do this type of community service  is a great spend a morning.

“Just being out here, keeping it sharp and clean — it’s nice,” he said.

Rachel, one of the Achieve Program students, said the experience was rewarding in several different ways.

“It’s fun — getting to do it (the clean-up) with your friends, and a nice way to  give back, and the  (volunteer) hours are always good, especially on a resumé, which is a good incentive,” she said. “But also, Colfax has  sort of a bad reputation, I guess, and maybe cleaning it up a little will help that.”

Sophia, another student volunteer, said the location of the clean-up made it more near and dear.

“We go to school around here and some of the kids actually live around here, so I think it’s really important to do something good for the neighborhood,” she said.

Bill Marino, director of West Colfax Business Improvement District, was there to represent the WCCA. He said the goal of these partnerships and events is simply to make the West Colfax area a better place to live, work and play.

“Our goal is to make the area better and better every year. That’s our goal. That’s our mission,” he said.