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‘Helping Hands’ having fun

Community: Church groups give back for day of service

Posted: May 14, 2010 5:08 p.m.
Updated: May 15, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Members of the local Mormon church gathered at Castaic Lake Recreation Area, Canyon Country Park and the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry on Saturday for a day of community service. Sixteen local congregations from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated, joining about 80,000 others across California for the "Mormon Helping ...

 
They were given 2 miles of curb to paint, and instead, they painted 6.

They assembled picnic tables, slapped on new color coats for restrooms and organized food for the hungry.

That was just part of a day of community service for nearly 900 local Mormons gathered at Castaic Lake, Canyon Country Park and the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry on Saturday.

Sixteen local congregations from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated, joining thousands all over California who participated in the “Mormon Helping Hands — Renewing California Parks” day of service on Saturday.

“There’s something special about knowing that in the state of California alone, there were probably 70,000 to 80,000 people out at the same time,” said Rick Patterson, multistake director of public affairs.

Volunteers donning yellow vests worked side by side to paint miles of red curb, rails, out buildings, storage containers and wood fencing at Castaic Lake Recreation Area.

They also filled medians with ground cover, shrubs and trees at Castaic Lake and Canyon Country Park. Church youth assisted the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry with organizing the food collected by local letter carriers, as part of the “Stamp Out Hunger!” food drive.

The Mormon Church chose to focus on parks, which have fallen victim to the strain of budget cuts, Patterson said.

“That’s where we go with our families,” he said. “The city, county and states don’t have the money to do the nice extra things like make sure there are new trees and bushes.”

Everyone benefits from a renovated public park, Patterson said.

The event even brought families closer together. Patterson’s 14-year-old daughter, Madeline, painted alongside her parents.

“That’s probably the most rewarding part is to be there with your family,” he said. “This is a part of what we need to do so that they see this as a way of life — giving back and having fun doing it,” he said.

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