It’s fall, time to return to school, return to the job, return to charity work.

That was certainly in evidence this past weekend in the Attleboro and Foxboro area.

Nearly three dozen volunteers braved the chilly waters of the Ten Mile River for the 16th annual cleaning of Attleboro’s major waterway.

Also in Attleboro, the fourth annual Empty Bowls event took place at Capron Park.

Over in Foxboro, hundreds participated in one of the area’s leading charity events, the 32nd annual Rodman Ride. And another 800 or so, took part in the Neponset Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Patriot Place.

These events make a difference.

The cleaning of the Ten Mile is part of a public-private effort that has restored the river from an industrial dumping ground to a valuable piece of the area’s natural resources. “The river today is cleaner than it has been in decades, is now fishable, and portions north of Attleboro are now swimmable,” the Ten Mile River Watershed Council reports. “Furthermore, wildlife -- including otters and the Great Blue heron -- have returned and are thriving.”

Saturday’s volunteers say far less trash was found in the river than in the earlier cleanups.

“It’s amazing how much wildlife has come back the city,” said Brian Kirby, a former city councilor who co-chaired the event with City Council President Jay DiLisio.

The Ten Mile will soon take another step forward, thanks to a $1.5 million federal grant secured by North Attleboro to dredge the river from Whiting’s Pond to Falls Pond, providing much-needed flood prevention to surrounding properties.

The Foxboro ride is the signature event for Rodman for Kids, an umbrella organization that raises funds for more than 40 youth-focused non-profit organizations. Since its founding by Foxboro automobile dealer Don Rodman in 1991, Rodman for Kids has raised $148 million to help young people enjoy a better life.

The Neponset Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s raised more than $247,000 towards the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.

And, the Empty Bowls event, with the help of sponsors Morin’s Hometown Bar and Grille and Russell Morin Catering, is part of the local effort to fight food insecurity. Feeding America estimates that one in 14 people in Massachusetts, including one in 11 children, face hunger; to meet their needs, another $305 million needs to be raised.

The charity events also offer a sign of hope.

America has been riven in recent years. It seems people choose a side and fail to try to see the other side’s point of view.

But last weekend’s events, and those coming up like this Saturday's "Spier Family Kindness for Kids" 5K at Patriot Place in Foxboro, show us that Americans can indeed unite for some causes, helping their neighbors and their communities.

We thank the volunteers for their efforts, and for the hope they provide to our divided nation.