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Work Done With Smiles During Love Escalon Day
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Members of Escalon Cub Scout Pack 263 gathered at the historic caboose adjacent to the city’s Main Street Park on Saturday, April 24 to show it a little love – washing it down and shining it up as part of the Love Escalon work day. Marg Jackson/The Times

Projects were many but so were the volunteers, as Escalon residents fanned out across the city to show some love on Saturday, April 24.

Celebrated as Love Escalon day, it was an opportunity for citizens of all ages to give back to their community, helping with beautification efforts, cleaning up, volunteering and helping the city put its best foot forward.

“It’s a beautiful day and I’m thankful that it’s not 80 degrees,” said coordinator Brittany Doornenbal, noting that bright sunshine and pleasantly cool temperatures greeted the volunteer workers.

She said after having to cancel the 2020 Love Escalon because of the pandemic, she wasn’t quite sure what to expect this year.

However, she said, she needn’t have worried.

“It’s crazy because this last week, everyone wanted to sign up,” she said, smiling. “With more people, we were able to get the projects done earlier.”

The work day started with volunteers going directly to their project site, with no ‘opening rally’ this year. People signed up online to volunteer for a specific project and reported directly to those assignments.

There were people planting flowers along Main Street, there were people helping clean and organize at the C.A.R.E. food pantry on Second Street, the Cub Scouts even were a late addition, coming on to help with a last minute project, cleaning up the historic caboose in the Main Street Park.

Local seniors also got a helping hand in some areas and overall, Doornenbal said she was extremely pleased with the turnout and the work done by a virtual volunteer army.

“I like just getting involved with the community and helping Escalon stay beautiful, as well as supporting my wife” said Luke Doornenbal, planting flowers and doing some clean-up work in the planters along Main Street.

Meanwhile, at the Happy Artists studio on McHenry Avenue, owner Alicia Johnson set out a number of projects for local youngsters to enjoy, for free, to take home from the day.

Painting birdhouses, decorating picture frames and making rainbows were among the offerings.

Charlotte Wylie, 5, was making a rainbow, starting with the color black – her favorite, she said – while sisters Brooklyn, 7, and Alaina Mancilla, 10, were enjoying painting their small birdhouses along with cousin Jayden Mancilla, 7.

“I’m going to put it on my tiny tree, I want the little birds to make a home there,” said Alaina.

Johnson added that Happy Artists will be offering a number of summer art camps at the local studio; visit Happy Artists Children’s Creative Studio online to learn more.

Volunteering at the C.A.R.E. Center, Escalon High School senior Irene Fernandez was part of a work crew there, helping clean and organize the food pantry.

“I just wanted to volunteer,” Fernandez said of showing up for the early morning Saturday work shift.

At the caboose, Cubmaster Shawn Strohman said he was happy to see his young Cub Scouts enjoying the work.

“It’s a good community service project for the kids, a way to give back to the community,” he said.

Volunteer Luke Doornenbal adds some more flowers along Main Street, one of the beautification projects as part of the Love Escalon event. Marg Jackson/The Times
Young artist Charlotte Wylie, 5, a kindergarten student at Van Allen Elementary, enjoys starting off her rainbow project at Happy Artists, the local art studio putting on a number of free crafts for kids to enjoy as part of Saturday’s Love Escalon. Marg Jackson/The Times