Lending a helping hand for a better community

All three Morgan Hill high schools benefited from efforts of the Helping Hands volunteers.

Anyone can see the effect the recent economic recession has had on public facilities. Falling tax collections have led to budget cuts resulting in layoffs of public workers. Parks, schools, playgrounds and buildings are looking increasingly shabby. But public-spirited volunteers can make a big difference.
On April 28, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stepped up to make a difference by being good neighbors and beautifying communities throughout California and Hawaii.
Approximately 70,000 people (including 17,000 non-Mormons) donated 227,280 hours of labor while working on 536 projects.
 This Helping Hands Program began in South America in 1998 when LDS leaders asked members to reach out to their communities in a day of service. Since then it has spread across the globe: hundreds of thousands of members and friends of the church participate annually.
South Valley wards (congregations), joined by other local residents, were active in this project; the efforts of these volunteers clothed in bright yellow safety vests achieved remarkable results.
Morgan Hill
The emphasis was on the city’s three high schools. At Central High 15 participants re-striped the parking lot and basketball court, removed trash, cleaned drinking fountains and picnic tables.
Forty participants at Ann Sobrato High School removed trash, weeded, and cleaned windows and lockers.
Seventy volunteers at Live Oak planted trees, flowers, and shrubs; cleaned lockers, drinking fountains, and windows; power-washed the front of the school.
The efforts of 206 participants were focused on Gilroy High School.
They painted parking lots and the outdoor stage, weeded, raked leaves and spruced up under the ramps of the portable classrooms.
Maintenance Manager Carlos Pina of the Gilroy Unified School District called the day “a huge success” and enthusiastically praised the volunteers at GHS for doing “a fantastic job taking care of tasks my reduced crew could never keep up with.”
The Chamberlain Children’s Center, a nonprofit family service agency, benefited from the work of 178 volunteers; and they accomplished major projects, including re-roofing two rooms, laying a concrete walk, restoring a gazebo, rewiring a building and demolishing two sheds.
San Benito County Supervisor Anthony Botelho was on hand to present an award from Congressman Sam Farr for the group’s previous outstanding community service feats.
South San Jose
Shady Oaks Park was the location for 94 volunteers to perform weeding, pruning, filling-in gopher holes, picking up litter and spreading bark. A representative of the local homeowners association presented Bishop Frank Taylor with a plaque to show their appreciation to the Helping Hands volunteers.
There are other inspirational stories of Helping Hands volunteers improving communities across the state:  
– Restoring wetlands in Watsonville
– Cleaning up a lake in Santa Clarita
– Sprucing up parks in Fresno
– Restoring an equestrian trail in Northridge
– Improving a nature center in Sacramento.
“Mormon Helping Hands 2012 was a wonderful success,” according to Woodland City Councilman Bill Marble.
“Municipalities everywhere are struggling to maintain community facilities. Many not of our faith joined with our wonderful members, and we have forged enduring partnerships with community leaders, elected officials, and other faith groups through this unique day of service.”

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