EAST WENATCHEE — Walking along Badger Mountain Road, where asphalt curves through golden fields, a handful of volunteers spend Make a Difference Day removing blemishes from the perch above the Wenatchee Valley.

This particular section of highway above Fancher Heights is a familiar one for Gene Sharratt, a semi-retired educator.

“I hike this road a lot and I’ve noticed it’s getting more and more trash so I thought this would make a good activity for us for Make a Difference Day to get it all cleaned up before the winter comes,” Sharratt said.

Sharratt was joined by longtime friend Judi Jenson while his brother Guy Sharratt and their nephew David Schoentag collected trash a mile or two down the road.

They started at 8 a.m. The goal was five miles.

“We couldn’t ask for a better day. It’s just exciting, it really is. It’s fun to get out and make a difference and be part of your community,” Sharratt said. “It’s a great community and anything we can do to help lift it up.”

By 9:30 a.m., they’d collected five or six bags of trash and a battery.

“It’s just nice to get it cleaned up before the winter comes,” Sharratt said.

“And every little bit helps,” Jensen said.

Most of what they find are beer bottles and beer cans.

“Lotta beverages,” Jensen said.

For Sharratt, filling bags with beer and pop cans is a small contribution to the place he lives.

“I think for me, it’s to have a great community we all have to invest in it and our time is the best investment we can make, and it’s an honor to be a part of a community that really wants to make a difference,” Sharratt said. “And if we don’t step up and make a difference, we’re not going to have the kind of community we want to live in.”

That’s what makes the annual day of service special to him.

“It’s a really nice community feeling and spirit, I think, when the community can come together for a common purpose and a common vision,” Sharratt said, “and that vision is to make your community a better place to live and work and raise a family.”

There’s a key word in there, he said.

“I love this word ‘community,’ and it’s because it ends with a five-letter word called ‘unity,’” Sharratt said. “And when I see the word ‘community,’ it’s about unity and Make a Difference Day is a unifying theme.”

Pete O'Cain: 664-7152

ocain@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter@peterocain

Sign up for our email newsletters