Hundreds turn out for Take Charge Challenge kick-off party at Liberty Hall

Kim Scherman, Kansas University junior and member of KU Environs, paints the hand of Josie Boyle, 8, Baldwin City, at the Take Charge Challenge kick-off party Saturday evening at Liberty Hall. The kick-off was also a watch party for the KU vs. K-State basketball team, and Boyle was having the name and number of her favorite KU player, Tyshawn Taylor, painted on her hand.

Almost 500 people came out to support the Jayhawks and energy efficiency Saturday evening for the Take Charge Challenge kick-off party at Liberty Hall.

Pizza, face painting and balloon hats abounded during the kick-off, which also served as a watch party for the Kansas University-Kansas State basketball game.

Jeff Risley, executive director of the Climate and Energy Project and an organizer of the event, said Lawrence wasn’t involved in the challenge last year, but this year Lawrence has a familiar opponent.

“The idea was to make sure we compete against Manhattan,” he said.

“The way we win is more than just changing out a light bulb.”

Manhattan is currently winning the challenge, which runs through September. But many Lawrence residents showed their support and contributed to their city’s challenge by attending.

Loretta Severin, who attended the event with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, said she grew up in a family that recycled.

“I couldn’t imagine it any other way,” she said.

She said she plans to teach her children how to be energy efficient at a young age so they grow up and teach their children the same things.

Everyone who attended the party received a goody bag to help jump-start the challenge, which included a compact fluorescent light bulb, insulation for power outlets, a calendar for keeping track of when heating and cooling filters were changed and information about the challenge.

Risley encourages Lawrence residents to get an energy audit for their homes, work with their utility companies to reduce their energy use and attend Take Charge Challenge events, all actions that can help Lawrence win the challenge. The winning city will win $100,000 to help fund an efficiency project, money that comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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