Redlands Daily Facts (CA)
August 29, 2009
Joy Jeudes, staff writer
“Bless Redlands Day” Held by Local Churches
REDLANDS – About 300 volunteers were out in the heat Saturday spiffing up local schools, parks and charities. The River Christian Reformed Church organized the first Bless Redlands Day, a morning of community service organized by The River church staff.
“It’s just to bless Redlands and give God the glory,” said Will Verhoef, a pastor at The River who worked with the group at Lugonia Elementary School.
Volunteers gathered for breakfast at The River on East Highland Avenue before spreading out to 16 sites around town.
Worksites included Redlands East Valley High School, two homes, Jennie Davis Park, Joslyn Senior Center, Braswell’s, The Blessing Center, Lugonia and Franklin elementary schools, Helping Hands Pantry’s distribution, storage and garden sites, Family Service Association, and Brookside and Crafton parks.
At Lugonia, volunteers from The River, Brookside Free Methodist and New Life Foursquare churches pressure-washed walls, poured a concrete sidewalk and cleaned up the campus. Verhoef said he was thankful firefighters from Fire Station 263 across the street helped the group access water for pressure-washing.
Inside the school library, volunteers labeled books for the school’s new accelerated reading program.
“I think it’s fabulous we have people who are reaching out to the community,” said Trista Barton, a fourth-grade teacher at Lugonia who was in the library with the volunteers Saturday morning. “For them to give back to the community, you don’t see that nowadays.”
Volunteers color-coded the book spines so kids could easily find their reading levels. Volunteers ranged in age from children to senior citizens.
“Especially with these kids here, it teaches them how to give back to their fellow citizens,” Barton said.
“That’s what’s good about this project – we’ve got stuff kids can do, stuff older people can do at Joslyn, Braswell’s,” said Pat Shelton of Redlands Nazarene, who organized volunteers at REV.
Marvalee Jorritsma of The River sat with other volunteers at the small library tables, sorting and putting stickers on books.
“We just thought that it was a good thing to do for our community. It’s just a good feeling to do something like this,” she said.
Verhoef said he was thankful volunteers donated their professional services. One volunteer at Lugonia was a general contractor, and a man at REV had a masonry business.
“We have people who do this for a living, and they’re still willing to do this on a Saturday,” Verhoef said, watching volunteers pour cement for the parent dropoff area.
“This is thousands of dollars in time,” Shelton said.
REV assistant principal Dale Whitehurst drove around campus Saturday morning, pointing out the progress of different projects.
About 30 volunteers from The River, Redlands Nazarene and Pathway churches repainted curbs, repaired capstones and broken masonry, cleared brush on a hill overlooking the junior varsity football field, trimmed trees and pressure-washed gum off the walkways.
“In these challenging economic times, this effort allows us to finish what we started over the summer,” said Whitehurst, who said budget cuts and loss of manpower left some projects unfinished.
Volunteers are returning in October to reseed grassy areas.
Ginger Mulder, administrator at The River, helped come up with the idea for Bless Redlands Day, and pitched it to the church staff.
“We loved the idea,” Verhoef said. “We picked a weekend we thought would work and tried to time it (with) people being back in town, back in school.”
He said the churches plan to make it an annual event. Shelton said it would probably be in May, when the weather is milder.
In all, about 300 people from 10 churches worked at 16 sites, according to Verhoef.
About 200 people attended a “prayer and praise” service at The River Friday night. Volunteers gathered back at The River for lunch and a Slip ‘n’ Slide in the church parking lot. The day ended with a worship service at Arrowhead Christian Academy.
The church is creating a slide show and DVD with photos from the event, which they will give to the other participating churches, Verhoef said.
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