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Oakdale Gets Showered With Love, Volunteerism
Always ready for a photo opportunity on Saturday was ‘Heart’ the Love Oakdale mascot, running around, exchanging hugs and high fives with those gathered for the morning rally to kick off the Love Oakdale day of service on April 30. Sarah Lawson/The Leader

A citywide community service celebration spreading love throughout Oakdale took place during the morning hours and on in to the midafternoon hours of Saturday, April 30.

Love Oakdale was staged and kicked off with an early morning rally at the city’s skate park that featured remarks and proclamations from representatives of local legislators State Senator Andreas Borgeas, Assemblyman Heath Flora and Congressman Josh Harder;, comments from Stanislaus County Supervisor Buck Condit; a welcome from Oakdale Mayor Cherilyn Bairos and the announcement that the City Council has proclaimed the last Saturday in April as ‘Love Oakdale Day’ for the community. Oakdale High School student Grace Miller performed the National Anthem

There were an estimated 350 community members in attendance and many filled up with breakfast pastries from Bloomingcamp Ranch and iced coffees from Refuge Coffee to take on 40 different community service projects ranging from painting park benches, to cleaning the gutters of homes for local senior citizens that are unable to do it themselves.

Teams formed with over 35 project leaders organized equipment and volunteers as well as provided leadership to get each project done.

“We celebrate Love Oakdale because it is a day to come together and serve as a community and also get to know more people,” said Love Oakdale coordinator Lisa Kjeldgaard.

She was quick to point out that there were several people working behind the scenes to make the day a success.

Lupe Aguilera went out and contacted non-profits around town and asked what they needed help with and how the town could help, and based the chosen projects on where the need for assistance was greatest.

City of Oakdale Public Services Director Jeff Gravel identified and provided support for city projects.

Todd Daily, OJUSD director of maintenance and operations, identified and provided support for projects at schools.

The lunch that was provided and prepared for the volunteers after their projects was hosted at Dying Breed and was put together by former Love Oakdale volunteer/coordinator Fred Rich.

Before the volunteers spread out to tackle their various projects, some awards were given out to people nominated for recognition, honored for going out of their way to ‘Love Oakdale’ and making a difference. Those 15 were Marg Jackson, Kari Ann Sims Conversa, Stephanie Stewart-Shockley, Jaymee Cotner, Jonyce O’Neill, Jack Dickens, Kayleigh Gilbert, Kellie Content, Sandi Casey, Larry Podolsky, Mary Ann Heath, Lisa Ballard, Karen O’Bannon, Melinda Owen, and Lisa Kjeldgaard.

The goal for Love Oakdale, coming from Kjeldgaard, is to in the future make it more than one day hoping to gain more relationships and build more connections to keep the volunteer effort flowing year-round instead of just on the one day a year.

Kjeldgaard – who was surprised by the recognition she received on Saturday – said she had no idea she had been nominated. However, the crowd applauded its approval as she was recognized for her work in coordinating the day of service.

To that end, she said she is continuing the search for people who have talents that could help the community and stretch out the volunteer aid; any interested residents can call or text her at 209-607-9881.

“I’m so incredibly thankful for each person who gave up their time and talents to make Love Oakdale happen, it was a complete joy to stand on the stage and look out at the sea of volunteers gathered together to love the people and places of our city,” Kjeldgaard expressed. “My biggest dream is that our citywide volunteer day will grow and touch more people unifying our city officials, businesses, civic groups, and churches as we serve.”

Oakdale High School alum Matt Kjeldgaard was busy on Saturday, cleaning up branches at one of the projects for Love Oakdale. Photo Contributed
Sanding and repainting the Magnolia Elementary School benches was one of the projects for Love Oakdale this year. This group project welcomed kids of all ages to help paint after the adults sanded down the old paint and smoothed out the wood. Photo Contributed
Volunteers as part of the Soroptimist group were tasked with handling the garden planting project at the Oakdale Family Resource and Counseling Center, as well as cleaning up the front area of the building. Photo Contributed