Painting park fences and digging holes is not how most people like spending their Saturday mornings, but that is just what two hundred and fifty-six men, women and children did on Saturday, April 27th.
Gathering at the Canyon Country Park, 256 volunteers in the Mormon Helping Hands program donned bright yellow vests, grabbed paint rollers and shovels and got to work painting three quarters of a mile of fencing, planting 300 hundred shrubs, and moving six truckloads of mulch.
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For nearly four hours, the entire park buzzed as local members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated time and talent to beautifying their community.
Residents who live near the park were impressed by the number of families and children involved in the project. A large number of volunteers were teenagers and young adults many of whom sacrificed time that might have been spent in other recreational activities but chose instead to work at the park.
“The youth of this Church are obedient and helpful,” said Helena Bitter, 65, who has been a resident of Canyon Country since 1985. “They all cooperate with smiles on their faces. We’re a happy people.” One neighbor who lives close to the park and walks there daily commented on the huge improvement in the parks appearance.
Canyon Country Park wasn’t the only area of the city to benefit from Mormon Helping Hands. An additional 88 volunteers cleared land at the Santa Clarita Central Park Community Gardens.
All told Santa Clarita Mormon Helping Hands volunteers provided a total of 1376 man hours of work. City officials estimated that the volunteer work saved the city over $26,000.
Eight-year-old Saugus resident, Ruth Kempler, was one of the younger volunteers. “I painted the fence so I could help my community,” she said, holding up her paint smeared hands. “I feel so good!”
Mayor Bob Kellar joined in the fun, hefting a bucket of mulch. “It’s another great year of the LDS Helping Hands program here in the SCV,” he said. “We as a city cannot express enough appreciation for all that is accomplished each and every year in helping the citizens of this city.”
Mormon Helping Hands began in 1998 in South America as a way to encourage church members to provide active service within their neighborhoods. It has since become an annual worldwide event incorporating a vast array of service projects aimed at improving and beautifying local communities. In addition to the projects within Santa Clarita, 60,000 other Mormon Helping Hands volunteers joined forces in similar beautification projects throughout California and Hawaii.
President Richard Wirthlin, one of the local leaders of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints Santa Clarita Stake divided his morning between hauling mulch and delivering paint to volunteers.
“It’s a wonderful blessing to serve as members of this great community,” said Wirthlin. “Young children, teens, parents, retired members of our church all work hard with smiles on their faces and paint on their noses. Mayor Kellar, city officials and Parks & Recreation personnel have been so supportive in organizing this opportunity and assisting us. We are very grateful for them.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News