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Helping Hands clean up lake

Posted: April 29, 2012 2:30 a.m.
Updated: April 29, 2012 2:30 a.m.

Ryan Christoffersen, 7, left, and his father, Bret, of Valencia, paint a curb in a parking lot at Castaic Lake on Saturday.

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Nearly 400 helping hands of all ages were stained with soil or paint during a Saturday morning renovation project at Castaic Lake, sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

“We wanted to serve the community and we found a project that could accommodate a lot of people,” local church official Carolyn Hill said. “It would take the Castaic Lake staff a year to do what we can do here in a day.”

By all accounts, the group volunteers did accomplish “a lot.”

“More than 120 trees will be planted, and eight miles of curbs painted,” Castaic Lake official Eric Reifman said. “The lake’s helicopter pad and main boat launch area will be painted, too.”

The work was part of Mormon Helping Hands, a worldwide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints event established in 1998.

“Today is California’s day, and we have service activities going on all across the state,” Hill said.

The volunteer work at the lake will save a substantial amount of tax dollars, Reifman said.

“It saves at least tens of thousands of tax dollars,” he said. “When you think about all the labor and equipment cost associated with this, it comes out to a serious amount of money.”

Equipment costs were almost nonexistent as volunteers brought their own supplies which included paint, paintbrushes, ladders, buckets and trash bags, Hill said.

Gabrielle Morris, 8, could be found painting a large metal storage unit near the park’s main office at 10 a.m.

“We’re making the park look better,” she said. “Last year, we painted and planted bushes.”

This was the third year in a row Gabrielle and her extended family joined in a Helping Hands project at the lake, Gabrielle’s mother Kim Morris of Valencia said.

Other work included local Boy Scouts renovating a picnic area.

“We’re planting 44 trees and painting the picnic area,” Scout Master Cliff Airhart said. “We’re also  installing water drip systems.”

Boy Scout Wyatt Allen organized the picnic area renovation to earn his Eagle Scout Badge.

“I did organize it, but seeing everyone come together out here is great,” he said.

The most difficult project of the day may have been clearing the swimming beach of weeds, church official Brenda George said.

“The beach cleanup was the most tedious — it was just covered with prickly weeds,” George said. “We wanted it cleaned up so when swimming season starts, people wouldn’t prick their feet. We had 60 volunteers out there, but it was hard work.”

The project was scheduled to run from 8 a.m. - noon, but many volunteers stayed well past noon, George said.

“We accomplished everything we wanted to,” George said late Saturday afternoon. “It was a pretty amazing day.”

Helping Hands volunteers also repainted a half mile of wrought iron fence at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center, said Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints official Kathy Kellar.

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