First lady Carla Markell led the start of the cleanup Saturday morning at the Brandywine State Park Community Volunteer Day, the kick-off event for Delaware's Week of Service April 20-27.

First lady Carla Markell led the start of the cleanup Saturday morning at the Brandywine State Park Community Volunteer Day, the kick-off event for Delaware's Week of Service April 20-27.

The Brandywine Park event, scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon, began at Baynard Stadium, 1000-1035 N. Park Drive, Wilmington. Volunteer Day is a partnership between Old Brandywine Village, Friends of Wilmington State Parks, Delaware State Parks and the State Office of Volunteerism, which is coordinating the Week of Service. Projects will include litter pick-up along the creek, invasive plant pull, mulching of playgrounds, clean-ups of Alapocas Falls and Rockford Tower and wood splitting. To register, go to

The event began the April 20-27 Week of Service in Delaware by calling attention to volunteerism across the state. The State Office of Volunteerism, the Governor's Commission for Community and Volunteer Service, and AmeriCorps Delaware work with such nonprofit groups as the Delaware Association of Nonprofit Agencies and the United Way of Delaware to foster and encourage volunteerism.

"The Delaware Week of Service helps to shine a spotlight on the value of volunteerism and the benefits it brings to our communities," Gov. Jack Markell said. "Serving others in need binds us together as individuals and strengthens our connection to the larger community. Carla and I know that volunteerism is a vital part of our culture in Delaware and it helps to promote the high quality of life that we enjoy in our state."

As first lady, Carla Markell has been a strong advocate for volunteerism during her husband's time as Governor.

"Jack and I know that by working together as Delawareans we can improve the lives of many and create a positive and healthy future for all," Carla Markell said. "We believe that we are a state of neighbors. By volunteering, each person can make a difference in the lives of others, their communities, and themselves. Together, we will build an even better Delaware."

Del. Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Secretary Collin O'Mara welcomed t the first lady and Sen. Carper at the April 20 Volunteer Day at Brandywine Park, a state park within the city of Wilmington that is home to the Brandywine Zoo.

"Brandywine State Park is the perfect place to kick off Delaware's Week of Service," O'Mara said. "With more than 5,000 Delawareans volunteering at our state parks last year, volunteers have been critical to making our parks beautiful for families to enjoy and connect to nature. Governor and Mrs. Markell have led by example, working on volunteer projects and promoting community service throughout our state."

Other events during the Week of Service include the Governor's Youth Volunteer Service Awards in Dover; the Western Sussex Laurel Boys and Girls Club Open House in Laurel; beautification of Baylor Potter's Field and a Garden Project with the Terry Children's Center, both on DHSS' Herman Holloway Campus near New Castle; and Capital School District Clean-up in Dover, part of the Youth Service America for Global Youth Service Day.

Delaware Secretary of Health Rita Landgraf, whose state Department of Health and Social Services oversees the State Office of Volunteerism, said volunteers not only enhanced the lives of the people they served, but also changed their own lives.

"Those who volunteer benefit from giving back, from making a difference in someone else's life, from strengthening our neighborhoods and communities," Landgraf said. "One of the great things about volunteering is that, for many, the benefit is immediate. It's that satisfaction of helping others that brings so many Delawareans back time after time, and instills a commitment to service."

Delawareans can search for volunteer opportunities by visiting Also, organizations and nonprofits are encouraged to list events and activities in which volunteers can are needed – anything from clothing drives and charitable walks, to clean-ups and plantings.

In a nationwide survey, the Corporation for National and Community Service ranked Delaware No. 1 for the greatest percentage increase in volunteering from 2010 to 2011 -- up 5.3 percentage points – 26.6 percent of Delawareans.