Rakes, shovels, muscle a matter of pride in Utah

With rakes, shovels, weed cutters, work gloves, muscles and sheer generosity, thousands of Latter-day Saints throughout Utah turned out July 18 for the annual "Take Pride in Utah" day.

Held every year since 1994, the event is designated by Gov. Michael O. Leavitt to get Utahns involved in recognizing, respecting and preserving the beauty of the state. Non-denominational though the event is, Latter-day Saint involvement obviously is key to its widespread success, as Church members are a dominant portion of the population.This year, for example, volunteers from scores of wards in the Salt Lake Valley beautified 150 homes in the Salt Lake inner city. Their work included painting, landscaping, weeding, cleaning, roofing and repair work. At two of the homes, the work began Friday and ran through Saturday night.

Further north, in Cache Valley, hundreds of students in Utah State University wards were among the volunteers at dozens of sites. More than 100 showed up at the Ronald V. Jensen Historical Farm in Wellsville to split and stack wood, build fences, haul hay, weed gardens and clean house, according to Luke Waldron, volunteer coordinator and member of the Logan University 26th Ward.

"Everyone worked their hearts out," he said.

Added Bishop Noel Gill of the 34th Ward: "I'm proud that everybody got out of bed to come and do hot, hard work and to fellowship. It's a part of the gospel that we sometimes forget."

In other projects, Church members from Salt Lake Valley helped to lay 20 semi-trailer loads of sod at This Is the Place State Park in Salt Lake City and to weather-proof historic buildings in the park's Old Deseret Village. And in Sandy and Draper, members of the Draper Utah Crescent View Stake removed weeds and trash near railroad tracks that pass through their stake.

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