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Churches Band Together For Community Work Day
Making their presence felt all around the community, members of several Escalon churches gathered with the Escalon Ministerial Association for a Community Service Work Day on Saturday, Oct. 13.

Crews were dispatched to three different sites, volunteers working at the city's Corporation Yard, at the Escalon Heritage House senior housing complex and at Escalon Covenant Church. (See photos, Page A2.)

At the corporation yard on Main Street, volunteers assisted Escalon's Public Works crews with sanding down and painting replacement boards for picnic tables and benches at Hogan Park.

"There are a total of 28 (picnic tables) at Hogan," said Public Works Superintendent Patrick Riggs. "We had a total of 258 boards that had to be sanded, primed and painted."

With crews coordinated through the Escalon Ministerial Association, members of several churches converged at the corp yard shortly before 9 a.m. to start the daunting task of preparing the boards.

"It's a good thing to do," said Dick Nelson, a member of Escalon Presbyterian Church. "It's for the community and we're part of the community."

Dave VanderMeulen, youth pastor at Escalon's Christian Reformed Church, agreed as he applied some primer to boards that were already sanded, taking his spot on the assembly-line style project.

At another station, a group of five young men from St. Patrick's Catholic Church sanded boards, getting them smooth prior to painting. With ready smiles and an easy camaraderie, they made quick work of the sanding process.

"Contracting out a task like this ..." Riggs said as he looked around at the all-volunteer crew working up a sweat in the chilly morning air, "this would cost the city tons of money."

Not only did the volunteer effort save the city money, Escalon Ministerial Association President Troy Onsager of the Escalon Presbyterian Church said it was a good exercise in community service for the workers.

"We approached the city," Onsager said. "As a group, we wanted to do a project to help the community."

The picnic table refurbishing was just one of three projects that work crews were involved with on Saturday.

At Escalon Covenant Church, volunteers met to assemble specialized caregiver kits.

"These are kits to be sent for the HIV crisis through World Vision," Onsager said of going to help those taking care of AIDS patients. The kits were expected to go to South America or Africa once completed.

After viewing a couple of short films regarding the AIDS crisis, volunteers took spots on an assembly line and filled up the brightly colored orange caregiver kits, putting in items ranging from gloves to anti fungal creams, acetaminophen to flashlights, notebooks, batteries and more. Also included in each one was a colorfully decorated note of encouragement, personally handwritten and placed with the other items in the kit.