Three thousand locals do community chores

A crew of workers from First Presbyterian Church clean up the planters and sidewalk behind Orchard Avenue Elementary School Sunday as they participate in ShareFest.



Carol Branscom had no desire to belong to a church ever again.

She had been a Mormon and a Lutheran and attended another Christian church for a while.

She was further put off when her good friend was denied access as a member to a local church because of her background.

“I was flabbergasted,” she said of the injustice of that situation.

But the ShareFest experience, with members of about 40 local participating churches donating their weekends helping others, in part, will get her back to church.

After studying their literature and attending services Sunday at First Presbyterian Church with her friend, Branscom decided to give organized religion another shot.

“It’s about unity instead of competition. To see all of them working together— I’ve never seen that before,” Branscom said about ShareFest.

Participation about doubled to 3,000 people in the second year of the event.

Volunteers fanned out to provide hands-on services for neighbors and strangers alike.

In-kind donations for the labor and other expenses were valued at $250,000.

One project had volunteers construct a fence for a blind man whose seeing-eye dog was being harassed.

In another area of town, volunteers descended upon an elderly woman’s home to wash her windows, cart away garbage, mow her yard and pull weeds.

After her husband was hospitalized after a fall Saturday night, volunteers returned today to pray with her.

“Anything from raking a lawn to wiring a mother-in-law’s home,” said Greg Merschel, an organizer of the event.

Thirteen-year-old Tanner Griffin still had the telltale signs of a hard day’s work on his clothes.

His hands, shirt and shorts were splotched with white paint as he enjoyed the after-party Sunday at Canyon View Park. 

“It makes me feel good,” he said about his work painting a woman’s home. 

Congregants from the churches and others who do not attend local churches identified residents’ needs and tackled more than 300 separate projects. A health fair at the park offered screenings and free tickets to the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series to those who donated blood.

Jim Hale, pastor of Spirit of Life Christian Fellowship Church, said the event has far-reaching social implications.

In one instance, one volunteer who helped paint a local homeless shelter last year learned that the building’s commercial water heater had quit working. He went out and purchased the shelter a new one.

Volunteers collected $6,000 to $7,000 for the event, but none of that money was spent as volunteers donated much of the costs from their own pockets.

The money saved will be used toward needs on the Web site, http://www.gjsharefest.com

“It blows people away because there’s not a single string attached,” Hale said of the event.


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