CAMDEN, NJ — Have an interest in helping to plan neighborhood activities and currently live in the Lanning Square section of Camden?

The Lanning Square West Residents Association is looking to reach people with ideas on ways to better connect the community, or who simply would like to be more involved in neighborhood planning.

By the start of next year, the residents association aims to have strong participation in committees geared toward senior life and the revitalized 4th and Washington Park, among other topics. That would hopefully allow for a weekly schedule of events to be set for the spring and summer, said Dr. Susan Stukes, president of the association.

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Ultimately, she said, the group wants "the people (of Lanning Square) to know that this is for them."

"We want everyone to feel included and to find out what they would like to see in their community," Stukes said at a neighborhood meeting earlier this week. "With the committees, we feel that people would actively be working to share ideas."

A recent topic of "community caring and sharing" has been added to the regularly-monthly meetings (held the second Monday of each month), where residents can highlight positive stories or news among their neighbors.

But the association wants to do more to give residents a voice in shaping the neighborhood and believes the committees are one such way to help. So far, these include committees on senior engagement, park management, and community events, though other ideas from residents would be more than welcome, Stukes said.

For the seniors, she said the goal is to help improve their quality of life in any way.

The association recognizes that these residents hold a lot of history of the area; some have lived there for 50 to 60 years, Stukes said, so "their opinions are needed."

With the reopening of the neighborhood park, volunteers have been sought out for morning and evening walkthroughs and trash collection. Activities on the park grounds like late-night movies and barbecues have been suggested.

“We want to find out what things residents want to have that we could setup in the park,” she said.

Additionally, the neighborhood has many overgrown lots that a committee on community events could target.

Stukes said a slime party was held for children in the area earlier this summer. The plan is to continue coordinating events with a similar wide appeal.

Another component of the committee would be about showing spirit for the different holidays.

Pino Rodriguez, vice president of the association and founder of a home beautification program called the Community Block Supporter Initiative, already suggested an idea for the Christmas season: hanging candy canes on telephone poles and other places in the neighborhood.

“This is to kind of get us started but we know people are going to have great ideas and want to be able to help formulate that," Stukes said. "We like that excitement. We want to foster a sense of community."

Residents of Lanning Square that are interested in getting involved or have questions should contact the association at lswra@aol.com.

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