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JustServe builds unity during Arizona cleanup

More than 200 JustServe volunteers work with Maricopa County Parks and Recreation to clean up Lake Pleasant in Arizona

In the months since a major service project in Arizona, the participants have felt more connected to their community and developed new relationships with their neighbors. 

The volunteers used JustServe — a website and app where people can find service projects in their area. Their efforts helped beautify the area around Lake Pleasant, and the people involved hope to be able to serve again in such a way in the future.

The project was a collaboration between JustServe and Maricopa County Parks and Recreation. With 24,000 acres around Lake Pleasant, the parks department does not have enough staff to keep up cleanup of the lake and surrounding area.

Families, friends and members of the community joined to collect 250 bags of trash on Sept. 6 and again on Sept. 10, 2022, to commemorate the 9/11 Day of Service. This effort was the largest volunteer community group seen at the park.

JustServe volunteers pick up trash around Lake Pleasant in Maricopa County, Arizona, on Sept. 10, 2022. The project has led to increased friendships in the community in the months since. | Selena Sorensen

Volunteers included members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, local businesses, high school clubs, city council and mayoral candidates, firefighters and police officers, families, children and members of several retirement communities.

Amanda Shafer of the Pleasant Valley Ward in the Arizona Peoria North Stake, said the project honored first responders and helped make the lake a more enjoyable place for people to visit for years to come. 

“The purpose of JustServe is to build unity in our community. When we all come together under one purpose we can move mountains, and we definitely moved mountains of trash,” she said. 

Shafer said Lake Pleasant is in her ward boundaries where she is the JustServe representative, and it is in the district where her husband, Brad, serves as a Peoria city councilman. 

Brad Shafer, a city councilman in Peoria, Arizona, and member of the Pleasant Valley Ward, holds grabber tools he used to pick up trash around Lake Pleasant on Sept. 10, 2022. Volunteers signed up on JustServe and built relationships within their community through the project. | Amanda Shafer

“It was truly a community effort, and we believe that if you want to make a difference in the world, you better roll up your sleeves and get to work,” she said. “Loving your neighbor means serving together — it starts with your family, then the people in your neighborhood, then your community, and so on and so forth.”   

Bill Klewer, the Maricopa County Parks volunteer coordinator, said afterward: “We were just overwhelmed by the community response… all joining together to help maintain one of our most beautiful landmarks. It was a great sight to see.”

The Pierce family holds bags of trash picked up around Lake Pleasant in Maricopa County, Arizona, on Sept. 10, 2022. JustServe volunteers gathered trash as part of the 9/11 Day of Service and built relationships within the community that have increased in the months since the project. | Lori Jensen
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