The wet weather of the past week cleared away just in time for Saturday’s Love Oakdale event on April 6, with nearly 300 volunteers lending a hand to help better the community through a number of service projects.
“I couldn’t be happier with the success of our event. We had 273 people sign up prior to our event and 26 additional people showed up the morning of our event. It’s the largest number of volunteers we’ve ever had,” said Love Oakdale committee chair Gina McCarty. “We had 24 projects and an additional four that weren’t listed on the website because there were specific groups that wanted to take them on exclusively. Just like last year, our focus was to help the seniors, veterans, widows of veterans and those that are struggling physically due to sickness or disabilities. We choose to complete projects for those that don’t have the financial means or family close by to help them.”
Volunteers gathered for coffee, donuts and some ‘warm up’ music provided by Mitch Fewell of Mountain View Church, then had a chance to win some prizes, with many of the items donated by the Oakdale Police Department. Finally, several speakers touched on the importance of the day and thanked those that came to donate their time and muscle to help their neighbors.
Mayor J.R. McCarty added his thanks to the crowd gathered at the community skate park for the early morning rally.
“We live in a great community,” he said. “You guys make it great.”
Gina McCarty also offered kudos to the committee that helped plan out and prepare for the day, noting that “you’re only as good as your team” and said hers was one of the best.
New this year was a canned soup drive for local seniors, with volunteers asked to donate a can of soup.
“Being that it was our first year doing this I wasn’t sure what the response would be but I’m happy that we were able to fill up 12 large boxes,” McCarty said. “Another first for us this year was that three generous stylists from Supercuts offered to take the day off from work so that they could donate their time giving free haircuts to the homeless and those in need. These amazing women were able to help 25 people.”
Projects ranged from beautification at area schools to alley clean up, maintenance and clean up at the Oakdale Citizens Cemetery, projects at individual homes and more.
“This is our first time,” said volunteer Trudi Morlang, working at the cemetery with husband Garrett. “We just wanted to participate.”
Kathie Hager, whose husband is a member of the Sunrise Rotary that was also involved in the cemetery clean up, said she was happy to take part.
“I think it’s great for Oakdale, this is such an involved community,” she said. “Hopefully we make a difference today.”
On West H Street, Kari Conversa was working with her children, son Evin, 11,and daughter Sammy, 9,with a crew that was doing clean up in the alleyways.
“We missed it last year,” Conversa said. “I’m a hard worker, my husband’s a hard worker, we’re non-stop and I want my kids to be the same way.”
McCarty added that not only were the number of volunteers up, but so were the donations and church support.
“The River Church, Calvary Chapel and Redeemer were our platinum sponsors for our T-shirts along with assistance from Life Community Church, Mountain View Church and Community Christian Reformed,” explained McCarty.
The committee spent the past four months getting the projects lined up and making sure everything was in place for the special day of service.
“Earlier this year our annual event was nominated by the Chamber of Commerce for Service Organization of the Year and although we didn’t win, it feels good to know that what we are doing is making a difference in people’s lives,” McCarty summarized. “I hope our love for Oakdale was felt across our city.”