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Beautifying city the goal for volunteers

Volunteers from around the city came out in some unseasonably cold, but thankfully dry weather April 19, to spread mulch in the tree berm along Fourth Street, one of a couple of projects undertaken during what was dubbed Service Day by organizers. -
Volunteers from around the city came out in some unseasonably cold, but thankfully dry weather April 19, to spread mulch in the tree berm along Fourth Street, one of a couple of projects undertaken during what was dubbed Service Day by organizers.
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MARYSVILLE It might sound corny to some, but the volunteers and the organizers all repeatedly said the effort came down to wanting to serve the community.

"We wanted to do something that shows our love for the city," said Victor Rodriguez, pastor of the Marysville Free Methodist Church. "It's just beautiful, if you ask me."

Rodriguez was referring to the scene around him April 19, which was dubbed, appropriately enough, "Service Day."

The effort involved what some estimated to be between 300 and 400 volunteers taking on service projects along Fourth Street and around Allen Creek Elementary School.

Service Day was a coming together of the Marysville School District, the city parks and recreation department and about a dozen local churches.

"It came out of a conversation we had with a ministerial group several months ago about engaging youth and engaging the community," said school district Superintendent Larry Nyland.

"It is truly unprecedented in any community that all of these churches banded together for the single purpose of taking on a beautification project that will benefit our community," said city Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew. "We are pleased to be partnering with our local churches in this endeavor."

"This endeavor" included planting dozens of trees and shrubs, as well as spreading mulch, along a long corridor of Fourth Street from Jennings Nature Park near 53rd Avenue NE and extending east.

At Allen Creek school, school staffers and other volunteers spread bark and cleaned up landscape islands in the parking lot, cleaned the detention pond and spruced up the multi-purpose athletic field near the school.

In both cases, the city supplied the materials; the schools and the church supplied the manpower.

"We just wanted to serve the community," volunteer Stephanie Rech said in explaining why she was helping spread mulch on Fourth Street early on a cold, Saturday morning.

Rech was one of the volunteers from the non-denominational Turning Point World Outreach Center. She said Service Day was an obvious way of bridging the connection between church and community.

"I just think it's a good idea," said another volunteer, Donna Geise, of the United Methodist Church. "Its gotten people involved."

Both indicated they would be more than willing to come out for future projects.

Mayor Dennis Kendall also was among the volunteers out on Fourth Street. He noted the work was something the city normally would have undertaken on its own.

All in all, volunteers planted 42 Karpic maple trees and 48 virurnum davidi shrubs, said city Community Information Officer Doug Buell in a press release.

The small shrubs will grow to about three to five feet in height.

Besides helping beautify the city, Pastor Tom Albright of the Marysville United Methodist Church said Service Day was a chance for the city's churches to show they are connected with the community. He further talked about proving local churches not in competition with each other, about them actually trying to compliment each other. Albright promised the recent effort wouldn't be the last.

"There's a couple more on the horizon," he said, though details haven't been finalized.

Albright said the pastors involved decided to take the initial event one step further, setting up a "pulpit exchange" for the following day.

In short, for that one Sunday, the pastors or preachers participating left their home churches and were guest speakers at other churches.

Besides those already mentioned, some other churches involved were the Allen Creek Community Church, New Hope Christian Church, the Judah Praise Center and the evangelical Damascus Road Church.

Albright said some 300 volunteers had formally signed up for the event, but he was guessing the actual turnout was closer to 400.

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