Volunteers needed to help clean up overgrown cemetery

Volunteers needed to help clean up overgrown cemetery
Volunteers needed at overgrown cemetery (Source: WBRC)
Charles King (Source: WBRC)
Charles King (Source: WBRC)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Family members are bringing weed eaters to a cemetery, just to find their loved one's graves.

That's what's happening at Shadowlawn Cemetery, where grass and weeds have grown so high, some families can't even find the right headstone.

One man said you can change all that.

Volunteers with the Bessemer Elks Lodge have been cutting the grass once a month at Shadowlawn Cemetery for about a year now.

But it's clearly not enough, and now they need your help.

"When you walk out here, a lot of times you have to watch because there are holes that erode out here, and you can fall in one of them," said Bessemer Elks Lodge President Charles King.

But those holes are the least of a family's concerns when they can't even find their relative's grave site.

Family members bring their own weed eaters now just to clear a path.

"Somebody's already come over and cleaned this gentleman's," King said of one of the grave sites. "He was in World War II and also Korea."

That's why King and volunteers at Bessemer Elks Lodge come out here to Shadowlawn Cemetery: for the thousands of veterans buried here.

"This cemetery is full of that," he said.

But when they only have a few volunteers to clear the weeds and cut the grass once a month, they can't get to every headstone.

"We've been out here cutting grass when they haven't been able to find their loved ones," he said.  "And I challenge any group or any person that would like to come out, come out and let's see what we can do to help these people get this cemetery clean."

It's a challenge King said people should take seriously.

This isn't just any volunteer opportunity.

"You will feel so good about what you have done for your fellow man," he said.  "These veterans have given us the freedoms that we need, that we want. And without them, we wouldn't have what we have today."

King and volunteers come out to the cemetery the last Saturday of the month but will be out this Saturday because of Memorial Day next week.

He's encouraging you to join them. You can call King if you'd like to volunteer. His number is 205-434-5494.

We've been reporting on this cemetery for a couple of years, including last year when Jefferson County formed a board that would oversee the upkeep of cemeteries.

The seven-member board will oversee for-profit cemeteries and supervise the maintenance of them.

County inmates will also assist with cemetery clean up.

While the board has been formed, they haven't met yet, but they told us they hope to have their first meeting within the next two weeks.

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