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Community Residents Step Up To Join Love Escalon Effort
Escalon school buses got a little love on Saturday, with a hard-working crew of kids and adults taking on the task of cleaning the buses inside and giving them a thorough washing on the outside during the Love Escalon work day. Marg Jackson/The Times

Despite the heavy rain of Friday evening washing out a couple of planned projects, the Love Escalon community work day on Saturday, April 8 saw dozens of people fan out in multiple directions, all working to better their community.

A group of churches joined together to put on the effort, hosting an 8 a.m. rally at the city’s Main Street Park before sending crews off to their various work stations and projects.

From a group walking neighborhoods to collect food for C.A.R.E. to volunteers doing weeding and lawn clean-up, there was plenty of love spread around during the roughly three-hour work window on Saturday morning. All but one project wrapped up before the rain arrived and the last one was finished up just before a downpour hit around noontime.

“I would say we probably had about 50 to 60 people that participated,” said Escalon Christian Reformed Church youth pastor Patrick Anthony. “All of the projects were done by a little after 11, by the time the rain started so that was a huge blessing.”

Organizers said they couldn’t have been happier with the turnout, after taking a year off from the Love Escalon program last year. There were several community projects available and the manpower provided equated to major savings while giving residents the chance to ‘give back’ to their community.

Washing of school buses, painting at the animal shelter, weeding and general clean-up at The Learning Tree preschool, yard work for local residents, cleaning at the Historical Society Museum, delivery of groceries to Heritage House and litter clean-up along Highway 120 were the main efforts on the day.

Painting projects originally scheduled at Van Allen and Dent Elementary schools was postponed due to the weather.

“We’re all from different churches,” Jen VanderMeulen said of the group that gathered at the bus garage to clean and wash school buses. “This particular project, we have a lot of families working together … it’s so great for the kids, they are realizing that working, helping, can be fun.”

At the animal shelter, 10-year-old Adrienne Beneux and younger sister Audrey, 7, were there to help their grandmother, Gail Barnes of Escalon, with paining.

“My brother has a baseball game and I didn’t want to sit through it,” Adrienne said matter-of-factly. “My mom suggested I go help here … it’s fun.”

Sarah Worley was among a crew using some elbow grease to do yard work and beautification at The Learning Tree.

“Our kids have gone here for years, we just wanted to a part of this for Val, Nancy and Sandy, and all of the Learning Tree, they have been a part of our family,” Worley said.

Elsewhere, about 40 boxes of groceries were delivered to residents at the Heritage House, several volunteers were cleaning and straightening displays at the Historical Museum on Main Street and another crew was doing yard work on Second Street

“This is the first time I’ve done Love Escalon, it feels great to help somebody,” said Doris Grijalva.

“I love it,” agreed Monica Vander Schaaf. “It’s fun to see the community come together.”

Getting her hands dirty, Susan Vander Schaaf was concentrating on removing weeds on the property.

“The spirit is contagious,” she said of volunteerism. “I’m glad we can do it.”