Youths to lead St. Jude Junkin' '

Sue Guinn Legg • Apr 10, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Friends of Luke Barnes will be out in force Saturday for a repeat of the benefit scrap metal drive conducted last fall at the Landmark Shopping Center on Sunset Drive. Barnes is Johnson City’s 11-year-old metal recycling whiz who began “Junkin’ for St. Jude” last year after he was diagnosed with leukemia and witnessed how the children’s research hospital comes to the aid of kids regardless of their family’s ability to pay.From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Luke, his family and a small army of volunteers led by 17-year-old Victoria Utsman and her American Heritage Girls troop, will be manning an OmniSouce recycling container to be set up in front of the Best Uniform Center, located across the street from Mahoney’s Outfitters at 805 Sunset Drive.Proceeds from all aluminum cans, pans and foil, steel food cans, large and small appliances, junk lawn mowers, bicycles, guttering, fencing and car parts, old wiring, broken tools and patio furniture and discarded nails, screws, nuts and bolts collected will go to St. Jude, adding to the tally of some $30,000 in donations Luke’s St. Jude junkin’ campaign has raised so far.This time all donations made to the drive will be good for the contributor’s choice of coupons for special offers from the neighboring Cranberries Cafe and Gems and Whims Beads and Jewelry shop. Victoria, who is coordinating the drive in her pursuit of her next American Heritage Girls service badge, called it “a great opportunity for American Heritage Girls” to help St. Jude “and for the community to have the convenience of one-stop collection.”With news of the drive, Luke’s mother, Beth, passed along her thanks to everyone who has contributed to Luke’s junkin’ so far, including Real to Reel Theater, which donated all its 35 mm projection equipment, and the many others who made the October drive a $5,000 success.In an update on Luke, his mom said he’s doing well and looking forward to Saturday.OmniSource, whose ads inspired Luke to begin recycling metal the year before his diagnosis, continues to support his St. Jude campaign by inviting anyone who wants to contribute the value of their scrap metal to simply mention “Luke Barnes for St. Jude” with any dropoff at the OmniSoure center at 110 Perma R Road.The annual Jacob Francisco Memorial Century Bike Ride and Awareness Walk to help build Johnson City’s new Sinking Creek Wetlands Education Center is set to roll April 26.The Earth Week event is conducted in memory of 6-year-old Jacob Francisco, who lived along Sinking Creek and died in 2004 from an E. coli infection of an unknown source.Hosted by Tri-Cities Road Club and the Johnson City Morning/Evening Rotary clubs, the ride features quarter-century and metric-century routes (approximately 25 and 100 kilometers) that begin near East Tennessee State University and run parallel to Sinking Creek past Jacob’s home and over Buffalo Mountain. The longer route follows the Nolichucky River to historic Jonesborough and back to ETSU with well-stocked rest stops all along the way. The ride is followed by a meal hosted by Knight’s Pizza for the centurion riders and a celebration with fruit and refreshments for the quarter centurions.The walk features a 2.5-mile course along the Millennium Trail that runs parallel to Brush Creek and West State of Franklin Road from ETSU to downtown Johnson City with awareness-raising artwork by local elementary students displayed in an open-air gallery along the trail. It will include a post-walk celebration with fruit and refreshments and an educational health competition with prizes.Proceeds from the event go to the Boone Watershed Partnership to help reduce the high level of coliforms in Sinking Creek and develop a 28-acre environmental education park in a wetlands area adjoining the creek being planned in collaboration with the city of Johnson City.Registration forms and more information about the event, including an opportunity to donate directly to the Sinking Creek project is available online at www.jacobfrancisco.com Financial donations for the project earmarked for “BWP-Sinking Creek,” may also be made by mail to Boone Watershed Partnership, ? Matt Dake, 578 Beaver Creek Rd., Bluff City, TN 37618.If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected], P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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