Former Marine Ian Grinnals drove six hours from Syracuse, N.Y., to pick up trash on the National Mall as part of the “Fix Up DC” National Day of Service event on Saturday morning.
The spontaneous community service event was organized on Thursday by FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots and Glenn Beck in an effort to enable citizens “to make a difference and do what government is not doing,” explained Deneen Borelli, FreedomWorks outreach director and Fox News contributor.
Leading officials in the tea party movement addressed volunteers, including television and radio host Beck and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
“We came up with this idea when we saw the man from South Carolina come out and mow the lawn. We thought all of us could do the same thing,” said Ellen Wheeler, director of messaging for FreedomWorks. “Congress may try to shutdown the government but they can’t shutdown the people.”
Individuals and families raked and bagged leaves near the outer paths of the National Mall grounds between 3rd and 7th streets NW.
Amanda O’Donovan of Eldersburg, Va., made the hour trip with her husband and children to rake leaves in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. “It’s a good cause for the family and community to come together and take care of the problem.”
The majority of volunteers walked westward with the Lincoln and World War II Memorials as the final destinations.
Co-Founder of Tea Party Patriots Jenny Beth Martin said the event’s purpose was “to show America that while the government shutdown is happening we are still doing what we can to take care of the Mall.”
Martin and Diana Banister, vice president and partner of Shirley and Banister Public Affairs, walked separately from the crowds and arrived at the World War II Memorials with bags nearly full.
Beck, who unofficially led the way down the Mall, arrived at the World War II Memorial shortly after noon and greeted dozens of veterans despite the signs of closure surrounding the oval-shaped space.
Grinnals, who served two tours in the Middle East between 2004 and 2008, had personal reasons for making the road trip down to Washington.
“I want to make sure these memorials stay clean for future veterans, especially veterans on these honor flights that are coming here usually on their last leg. They should have a place to come and be remembered,” added Grinnals, a member of the Sons of Sam motorcycle club, which supports men and women of the armed forces.