MARYSVILLE — Cindy Hartline used a rake to gather weeds pulled from around wild rose bushes at Grove Elementary School.
A member of Marysville First Assembly Church, Hartline, 61, wore gardening gloves and sunglasses on Thursday afternoon. She dumped a pile of the yard waste into a garbage can and started raking up more weeds.
“A big part of our church is getting involved in community as well as giving back and taking care of the community which we’re a part of,” she said. “This is my gardening for God.”
The Lake Stevens woman wasn’t alone. About 100 people last week were part of a community outreach project the church organized called, “I Heart Marysville.” Volunteers worked Monday through Friday on projects that included pulling weeds and other landscaping at Grove Elementary School, Marysville Pilchuck High School, eight local parks and Little League fields at Marysville Middle School. Church members organized the project as a way to give back to the community by helping to cleanup during a time when budgets for upkeep at schools and parks are being cut, said Fawnda Faucett, children’s pastor.
“We understand budgets being cut,” she said. “I think that’s hit everybody. It really became something where I think our volunteers were really impacted to know what lending a day’s worth of work really means.”
The grounds at Grove Elementary changed considerably during the week, said Meghan Szabados, 15. The Lake Stevens girl cleared flower beds overridden by thistles and weeds. For Meghan, the work wasn’t necessarily enjoyable, but the end product was good.
“We’ve got it rebarked so it looks like a garden again,” she said. “It’s been really enjoyable watching the place change from this overgrown jungle. We’re coming out here and fixing what people are complaining about. We’re going to make a happy community and hopefully a happy school, too.”
The Marysville School District appreciates the effort of the volunteers, said Keith Stefanson, maintenance and custodial manager for the district.
“I think it helps add to the perception that people get by driving by our schools,” he said. “It’s awesome. I went by there last week and by there this morning and it’s night and day.”
Several school district maintenance staff worked at the sites with the volunteers, Stefanson said. The district and city helped to provide material such as beauty bark and trucks to drive the waste off site.
Volunteers also painted building exteriors at Marysville Pilchuck High School said Daniel Livengood, pastor of communications and media at the church. More than 2,000 hours of work were donated throughout the week, he added.
“We love our community and we see that there are needs and rather than complaining about them we’re going to do something about them,” said Livengood, 29. “The best way of making a difference is to go out and make it.”
Church members including Josh Wight, 71, hope their week-long service project idea continues at Marysville First Assembly Church and leads to groups organizing similar projects in the city.
“If other churches would take on a similar project, it’d be great,” he said.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; email@example.com.