Worldwide day of service

Like an immense, worldwide army of good Samaritans, Latter-day Saints in more than 20,000 Church units contributed 3 million or more man-hours of service to their communities July 19.

That date was declared "Worldwide Pioneer Heritage Service Day," by the First Presidency as a component of this year's Pioneer Sesquicentennial. Each ward or branch was asked to donate at least 150 hours of service to the community on that date."It was exciting!" exclaimed Robert L. Backman, emeritus General Authority and vice chairman of the Sesquicentennial Committee. "I could not have anticipated the participation we saw last Saturday. Over and over again, I heard people say they hope we do this again."

Elder Backman said he was certain Church members had surpassed the 3 million-hour estimate, based on what he had observed locally.

Below is a sampling of the service performed in various parts of the world.

Colorado Springs, Colo.

The three stakes in Colorado Springs worked in cooperation with the city Parks and Recreation Department to clean parks, trails and rights-of-way throughout the city of Colorado Springs and El Paso County.

At the conclusion of the service activity, the Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs East and Colorado Springs North stakes presented to the city a marker for placement on the Trapper's Trail to mark the area on which Church members traveled from Pueblo, Colo. to Fort Laramie.

Fremont, Calif.

Some 500 members of the Fremont, Fremont South and Hayward California stakes in northern California donated more than 1,500 hours of service to restore the ancient Ohlones Indian Cemetery in Fremont. Begining the week before the Church-wide day of service, the extensive clean-up effort culminated on July 19, during which 18 trees were planted in the cemetery in honor of the Ohlones custom of planting to commemorate the cycle of life.

Alcala De Henares, Spain

Sixty-five members of the Alcala De Henares Ward of the Madrid Spain Stake gathered litter and other forms of trash in a historic 16th Century nature park. Members, ranging in age from two years old to 65 years old filled numerous black trash bags. Members from the 2nd Ward and 4th Branch in the stake cleaned graffiti from park benches.

Mesa, Ariz.

Members of the Greenfield Park Ward, Mesa Arizona Kimball East Stake, combined their annual ward campout with their Heritage Day service project.

Elders Quorum Pres. Robert Etherington contacted the Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery in the Tonto National Forest, about 100 miles northeast of Mesa and found out what help was needed. The night before the day of service, more than 100 ward members, including children, camped nearby the hatchery where they enjoyed a pioneer program around the campfire. The next morning all joined in and pulled weeds around the fish ponds where chemical weed-killer can not be used because of the fish.

Atlanta, Ga.

More than 200 members from the Acworth Wrad, Marietta Georgia East Stake, and Kennesaw Mountain Ward, Power Springs Georgia Stake, restored badly eroded trails and other sites at a Civil War battlefield - Kennesaw Mountain - that is now a national park.

Parents and children worked together to shovel dirt into buckets. The dirt, used to rebuild and reinforce the trails, then had to be carried up a mountainside by a 40-man bucket brigade.

Charlotte, N.C.

About 60 members from the Charlotte 2nd Ward, Charlotte North Carolina Central Stake, gathered to clean areas around two fishing lakes. The lakes were littered with debris and had become a hazard to the health and safety of wildlife in the park.

Morgan, Utah

A freeway exit on Interstate 84 coming into Morgan was beautified by members of the Morgan 2nd Ward, Morgan Utah Stake, for their service-day project. More than 160 participants cleared rock and sagebrush from a hillside and installed a sprinkler system. They placed a large rock engraved with the pioneer sesquicentennial logo and "MORGAN 1868" in the center of the hillside, signifying the year the city was founded by pioneer settlers. It was bordered with a block-capital M, made from wooden posts and filled with maroon lava rock. Sod and flowers filled the remaining area.

Because the sesquicentennial wagon train passed through Morgan County on July 19, the work was accomplished before that date, as the city wqas told to expect 100,000 spectators wishing to see the wagon train. However, a dedication was held July 19, during which a metal box was buried in the hill in front of the rock containing an outline of the occasion, description of the project and names of participants.

Sydney, Australia

Church members in Sydney Australia planted trees and engaged in cleaning up the historic All Saints Church of England cemetery. The cemetery was in use by 1834 or earlier and is one of the oldest in Sydney.

Other members in Australia also gave service. For example, more than 80 families in the Baulkham Hills Stake in New South Wales assisted the community in planting 2,000 trees.

Fargo, N.D.

Fargo 1st and 2nd Wards in the Fargo North Dakota Stake worked at three sites. In Rollag, Minn., a one-room schoolhouse, last used in 1961, was cleaned. At a cemetery there, twigs and branches were trimmed from bushes and trees, and rubbings were made from seven grave markers of people buried between 1880 and 1886. In Bonanzaville, a simulated 1800s town at West Fargo, the stake presidency and many members cleaned and scraped paint, readying buildings for a new coat of paint. At Buffalo River (Minn.) State Park and Nature Center, members spruced up picnic tables and other items.

Parker, Colo.

When the Parker Historical Society decided to restore a log cabin that had been built in 1860 by an early Colorado government official, Park Ward public affairs specialist Mary Kay Green and Bishop Brent Hillier knew they had found the perfect service project for the July 19 worldwide day of service.

The Historical Society was stunned when 147 men, women and children from the Parker Ward turned out with tools, know-how and muscle and spent 431.5 hours working on tasks assigned by project director and archeologist Karen A. Kievt. Before the day was done, the old roof and interior gypsum board were removed; trash and debris were hauled away; two exterior walls slated for preservation were scraped, sanded, caulked and primed; an old barbed-wire fence was removed; and the cemetery was completely weeded and cleaned.

Auckland, New Zealand

Members of stakes in Auckland, New Zealand, participated in a variety of service projects:

In the Waterview and Mt. Roskill stakes, workers armed with scythes and spades helped convert Meola Reef from a wasteland into a public preserve.

Young Single Adults in the Harbour stake painted out "tagging," a form of graffiti, on properties in Glenfield, Auckland, New Zealand. And in the Takapuna Ward of that stake, members cleared weeds and washed windows at the North Shore Hospice in Auckland.

Two hundred members of the Panmure Stake participated in three projects with the assistance of city officials: cleaning windows and gardens at 300 pensioner apartments; planting native trees at a nature reserve and pulling weeds at the reserve; and cleaning up a roadside.

Richmond, Va.

The Scotchtown Ward, Richmond Virginia Stake, split into three groups with each performing a service project. One group fixed up the home and yard of an elderly woman who has electricity and a phone but no running water. The service efforts included clearing debris and overgrowth from the yard and consolidating several stacks of firewood near the house for easier access in the winter.

Another group scraped and painted an old ice house and a cottage that were at one time the home of patriot Patrick Henry.

The third group cleaned about 21/2 miles of roads in the Lake Land'or community which is currently undergoing road improvements and a beautification program.

Benoni, South Africa

Members of the Benoni South Africa Stake set a goal of 2,400 service hours, but more than doubled that goal with such projects as fixing up and painting a nursery school, making and donating quilts to a home for the elderly, and teaching skills like cooking and sewing to local women in the community.

One such project was done by the Kwa-Thema Branch for the Emmanuel Children's Home in Vlakfontein. The branch's Young Women, Relief Society and priesthood members donated 215 hours of service after discovering the home had no telephone and was in dire need of such basic services as washing clothes, fixing meals, hanging a clothes line and rehanging doors.

Newbury Park, Calif.

Among the thousands of service hours given by members in Southern California were those by members in the Newbury Park California Stake. Among the projects were the following:

Newbury Park 2nd Ward members painted the exterior of a house owned by a bedridden widow. The woman, who suffers from dementia, had not been out of the house since January and her house had not been painted for more than 30 years.

Members painted the house and repaired the garage door and screens. Relief Society sisters and young women also made quilts. At a nearby mobile home park for senior citizens, young men removed shrubs.

The Newbury Park 3rd Ward donated 255 hours of service to the Stagecoach Inn Museum in Newbury Park, Calif. More than 80 men, women and children worked inside and outside the museum.

Frankfurt, Germany

The Frankfurt Military Ward responded to the call for 150 hours of service by assisting Pastor Leanon Trawick in his ministry to feed the homeless at the Ostpark shelter, one of four shelters he serves in Frankfurt.

The ward Relief Society directed preparation of the lunches of sandwiches, fruit, homemade cookies and punch by a crew of about 25 men and women. About 50 ward members of all ages participated in serving the lunch, singing for the residents and getting to know them.

Pocatello, Idaho

Ten stakes in Bannock County combined their efforts to build Pioneer Park in Old Town Pocatello. The project includes a wall 10 feet by 30 feet in which tributes to Native Americans, explorers, railroaders and settlers were etched. The park was completed in phases, with the work culminating on July 19.

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