Churches to clean up the community

Eleven local churches will spend a Saturday in early May doing spring cleaning, putting new siding on public buildings and freshly manicuring landscaping at a nursing home.

The difference between most spring cleaning and this one is that the churches are reaching out to their communities to make repairs, weed lawns and perform other chores, and it’s all free.

“We don’t ask anything of the people or agencies we do this for,” said pastor Gordon Everett of Snohomish Community Church, which boasts a congregation of about 800 people. “Our goal is to share the love of Christ in a very practical way.”

CareFest of Snohomish County, set for May 3, began three years ago. It was inspired partly by ShareFest, a similar event in Arkansas, and the dozens of CareFests in which churches take part across the country. The Everett area’s CareFest was also nudged along by a nagging question Gordon Everett said wouldn’t budge from the back of his mind.

“If our church was taken out of the community, would anybody miss it?” he asked. “Are we making any difference? Are we doing more than serving our own needs?”

When Everett shared his plan with other pastors in the area, several joined him.

Then, he had to find projects. Some were obvious, he said, such as caring for children so single moms could have a day to themselves or sprucing up the landscaping for nonprofit agencies.

Other project ideas had to be tugged from local leaders who were skeptical of an offer of free labor.

“We asked Centennial Middle School for their wish list, and they said, ‘You’re kidding,’” Everett said.

Last year when the school leaders were convinced that Everett and his team of do-gooders were serious, they offered a list of jobs cobbled together by departments that were happy for the help. Church members repaired torn curtains, spread new bark chips near the school’s parking lot and washed the building.

This year, volunteers will spend the day stitching together quilts for those in need, participating in hymn sing-alongs at nursing homes, building awnings at Centennial Middle School and donating blood, among other projects. Through a partnership with Bickford Ford, single mothers and families struggling to make ends meet will be able to apply for free oil changes.

“You care about your community, so you do practical things,” Everett said.

Anyone can volunteer for CareFest, he said. The event is not limited to members of participating churches.

Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or kkapralos@heraldnet.com.

Lend a hand

To see a list of churches participating in CareFest or to volunteer, go to www.carefestsnoco.org.

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