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Local Volunteers Dig In For Saturday Of Service
Working to get the site ready for a planting soon, volunteers Rachel Bahn, left, project leader Gary Jones and former Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul, right, rake away debris at the future site of the Oakdale Community Garden, off East A Street during the Saturday, April 24 Love Oakdale event. Marg Jackson/The Leader

From trash pick-up at parks to refreshing the large OHS letters on the back side of The Corral, there was plenty of love to go around as volunteers fanned out around the community on Saturday.

Love Oakdale was hosted on April 24, one of several area cities that were part of the movement. Local coordinator Lisa Kjeldgaard said it definitely was a success, with people seeming to be eager to have the opportunity to get out, get their hands dirty, and support their neighbors in the process.

“We had over 300 volunteers,” Kjeldgaard reported.

That number jumped significantly from those that were signed up as of Thursday, April 22 – with about 200 anticipated to turn out. But they gained plenty more and had volunteers for all the different projects.

The day started off with an 8 a.m. rally, plenty of balloons and decorations signifying the gathering site at the community park/amphitheater along South Yosemite. Guest speakers welcomed the volunteers and Kjeldgaard said special recognition was given to 19 different residents, families and/or organizations for their continued support of Oakdale.

“We’d also like to express heartfelt thanks to our largest sponsors, Gilton Solid Waste Management, Inc., Riverbend Ranch, Redeemer Oakdale, and Sierra West Airlines. They allowed us to purchase more project materials than ever before as well as support local small businesses,” noted Kjeldgaard.

After the rally, teams spread out, heading to their individual project sites.

Each location had a team leader that helped secure the volunteers and mapped out a plan for the project.

“My son came home from school with a flyer,” Lindsey Wetenkamp said of getting involved in the effort. “We had done it a couple of years ago.”

Mom Lindsey and daughter Gwen, 13, an eighth grader at Oakdale Junior High, were busy on trash pick-up duty at Dorada Park. Son Charlie, 10, was also a volunteer with the park clean up.

“I just like making the park look nice,” said Gwen.

Sixth grader Carter Riley, 12, said he did the service project previously when he lived in Turlock and was happy to volunteer this year, doing some raking at Dorada.

“I want to keep it nice,” he said.

Oakdale councilmember Curtis Haney and his son, Curtis Jr., 6, were helping with tree planting and landscaping work at the Oakdale Rescue Mission.

“I was really thrilled with the turnout and all the smiling faces,” Haney said of the day of service. “It’s an honor to be a part of it.”

A team of students repainted the large OHS letters on the back side of The Corral, also replacing the bark, freshening up the area. Other volunteers did prep work at the site of the future Oakdale Community Garden, while still more were busy planting and cleaning at the Paul Katuszonek Memorial at the top of Burchell Hill, adjacent to the water tower.

Sixteen new plants were added at the memorial on Saturday, and current Oakdale Police Chief Scott Heller was among those on hand to see the project unfold.

“We really appreciate the efforts of the Garden Club and Cub Scouts,” Heller said of those taking on the project. “It’s great and we’re really honored by this … we really appreciate it. All of Love Oakdale is a great event.”

Gwen Wetenkamp,13, at right, holds the bucket while her mom Lindsey does some trash pick-up near the covered pavilion at Dorada Park, one of many sites around the community that got some much needed love and attention during Love Oakdale on Saturday, April 24. Marg Jackson/The Leader
The father-son team of Curtis Haney and Curtis Jr., 6, were busy at the Oakdale Rescue Mission site for Love Oakdale on Saturday, helping spruce up the front yard of the West G Street home. Marg Jackson/The Leader