The graves of some of the Brandon area’s most historic figures will get a facelift thanks to a church youth group and community volunteers.
As they have done for the past five years, the group from Limona Village Chapel United Methodist Church will grab some gardening tools and head for the historic cemetery near their church for a morning spruce-up.
The group is welcoming the community to join them for the Limona Cemetery cleanup on May 18 as a way to include people whose loved ones and friends are buried there. They’ll rake amid the gravestones of Brandon pioneers like the Bryans, the Falkenburgs and the Windhorsts, whose names were given to some of this area’s most prominent roadways.
The cemetery, which is also the final resting place for several Civil War soldiers, is located at the intersection of Lakewood Drive and Woodberry Road.
The best thing about this cleanup is that it is an intergenerational event, said Loretta Nowlen, a trustee for the Limona Cemetery Association.
“It brings an opportunity for the adults and youth to work together on a project,” Nowlen said. “The intergenerational thing is always a good thing. That’s an area we think we should encourage, the youth being in service and being on a speaking level with the other generations.”
In exchange for work by the youth group, the trustees make a donation to their annual mission trip. This year, members of LVC Youth are headed to Gatlinburg, Tenn. to help the poor in that area.
“It’s physical labor,” said Stephanie Rawson, who, with her husband, Leslie, has headed the youth group for nine years. “We’ve replaced a roof on somebody’s house in Gatlinburg and had two trailers we did one year. They were supposed to be condemned but the kids did so much work on them that the people were able to stay in their homes.”
At the two trailers, the youth hauled away a semi trailer full of garbage that had been piling up for more than 20 years. “We had to walk the garbage down a hill” just to load it, Rawson said.
“The house where they replaced the roof had mold in it. The kids couldn’t even go in there without masks and goggles,” Rawson said. “The owners desperately needed the work done and it was a team effort.”
The local youth group works with a Christian company called teameffort.org, which finds the jobs and organizes the kids to come and lend a hand, she said. This year, one of the youth group, Jaci Evans, now completing her first year at the University of South Florida, will serve as a counselor for teameffort.org. She has been on eight of the Limona mission trips.
“I couldn’t be more proud of all of them,” Rawson said.
But before that, they will be cleaning up the Limona Cemetery, which is over 100 years old.
Anyone who cares to join should show up at 8 a.m. with a rake, gloves, closed toe shoes and sunscreen, Nowlen said.