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Volunteers Tackle Love Oakdale Effort
Berna Browning gets down to business weeding beds at the community garden along West F Street, at the site of the Center for Human Services, one of the projects offered during Love Oakdale on Saturday. Marg Jackson/The Leader

Admitting he was kind of “de facto appointed” this year to oversee the Love Oakdale project, local resident Zach Greenlee wasn’t complaining. He was, instead, excited to see the spirit of volunteerism that hundreds of residents brought with them to Wood Park early Saturday morning.

Greenlee addressed the assembled volunteers just before 9 a.m., then sent them off to huddle with project leaders as they spread out across the Cowboy Capital of the World to clean, repair, paint, weed and more as part of the annual community service work day.

“I’m so happy to see all of you,” Greenlee said in welcoming workers. “It’s wonderful.”

Some 200 or more residents joined in the Love Oakdale effort to take on projects ranging from weeding and cleaning at the Oakdale Historical Society Museum to working at the Community Garden, replacement of old ceiling tiles and installation of child safety locks at Family Support Network to removal of ivy on a wall at Ventanas and East G and doing yard work at private residences for locals in need of some assistance.

“I’m proud of what we did,” volunteer Debi Lohmann said of her work crew, which used plenty of elbow grease to pull down the ivy along the East G Street corridor. Among those working with her were young volunteers Jaylynn Casey, 9, and Alan Casey, 10, and Oakdale High School freshman Breanna Morgan.

Work details started about 9 a.m. with the goal of completing the assigned tasks in time to be back at Wood Park for a wrap up hot dog barbecue lunch about noon.

Co-coordinator Gina McCarty, smiling as she watched the volunteers dig into lunch, said she couldn’t have been happier.

“It all just happened to fall together,” she said.

Rebecca VonRiesen was a key contributor behind the scenes, said McCarty, and Jason Hughes handled the cooking of the hot dogs for the masses.

Many projects were family friendly, so children accompanied their parents to join the volunteer efforts and make their community a better place.

“As a council member, it’s wonderful to see the community get involved,” added Oakdale City Councilman J.R. McCarty, jumping in to help weed at the community garden. “I’m very thankful we have all these volunteers … when Oakdale needs something, people come out and give all their time and energy.”