By Troy Hartpence
“When the students and staff walk in here on Monday, they are just going to say, ‘Wow, this is really nice,’” said Dr. Pat Shaw, the Superintendent for the School District about clean-up efforts at Pepper Drive School.
“Many of the things that we hoped to get accomplished that we could never get too, has been able to do it today,” Shaw said.
Over 300 members and friends of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined together in Santee and El Cajon on Saturday, April 30, to participate in the annual “ Helping Hands” day of service.
Projects were suggested by the City of Santee and local LDS leaders, in partnership with the , School District and other community leaders that worked together in choosing the two locations.
Helpers started at 8 a.m. and headed out to one of two locations- the ball fields off Mission Gorge Road in Santee and surrounding property as well as the in El Cajon.
This past year has brought heavy rainfalls, which in turn caused classroom flooding problems at the school.
One of the major service tasks was cleaning and clearing out storm drains around the campus. Those drainage areas are now clear, thanks to a few helping hands.
“When kids come to school and things get spruced up, and I mean super-spruced in this case, kids take better care of their school and the grounds as well, ”said Shaw.
In Santee, volunteers were also spread out across 13 acres at the Pioneer National Little League fields, the building and adjoining property located at 10315 Mission Gorge Rd.
Volunteers of all ages performed duties such as weed abatement, brush control, painting dugouts and bleachers, mulch disbursement, litter removal and overall beautification tasks at each of the properties.
“It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do,” said Dave Higgins, President of the Santee Pioneer National Little League. “When the kids feel good about the fields they play on, they feel good about themselves. When it looks like a real ball field, then they feel like a real ballplayer, that builds self-esteem,” said Higgins.
Megan Konold brought daughter, Elly, 9, to learn the importance of service and community.
“I wanted to teach her the importance of hard work and to also teach by example,” Konold said. “She’s also having a fun time doing it!”
Ron Pennock, District Representative for , personally presented the group a “Certificate of Recognition” to the 2nd Counselor in the Santee California Stake Presidency, Randall Schimpf, for everyone’s hard work.
Volunteers wore the distinctive yellow Mormon Helping Hands vests, the vests used by church members when participating in humanitarian service projects and disaster efforts throughout the world.
“The turnout is great,” said El Cajon resident Marsi Walker, who oversees local public affairs for the church. “Mormons aren’t afraid of hard work, and if you ask for something to be done, you better be ready- because it will happen!”
An estimated 70,000 “Mormon Helping Hands” volunteers served across the State of California to clean-up city, county and state parks during the weekend.
“It was also inspiring to see father, mother, sister, brother be part of this community beautification project,” Walker said. “There truly is unity in community,” she added.