MODESTO -- Volunteers on Saturday chose to show some love to a group of refugees from Burma, welcoming these newcomers with help in their vegetable garden and producing much more than fresh ingredients for their traditional meals.
"It just shows the love of the community," said Pam Scholl, one of the volunteers. "When people come together to help them it really makes them feel that they now have a village here."
The garden work was one of about 60 projects created by Love Modesto, an all-volunteer effort to improve the community. About 2,500 people participated in neighborhood cleanups, community outreach and public service efforts.
The projects ranged from creating a long-jump pit for the upcoming Special Olympics to cleanup efforts at various schools throughout the city. The events began with a downtown rally in the morning before volunteers were sent to neighborhoods.
The Modesto volunteers were part of a larger contingent of more than 6,500 who signed up for 450 projects in cities throughout the Central Valley.
In Ceres, a crew of three volunteers repaired a porch for an elderly woman who had fallen through it when the worn out wood broke. Alex Magana of Hughson, Troy Slaybaugh of Ceres and David Thompson of Ripon strengthened the porch's stairs at Las Casitas Mobile Home Park.
The volunteers in Modesto spent Saturday building a foundation for a new life for the refugees from Burma. Pam and Jeff Scholl of Modesto helped lead the group of volunteers who planted winter vegetables.
Strong work ethic
The Scholls spent three months in Burma and Thailand this year and grew to love the people of the Southeast Asian country. They discovered people there have a strong work ethic. When the couple learned earlier this year that refugees from Burma had arrived in Modesto, they decided to reach out to them.
"Even though they came here with very little, they have enormous hearts," Pam Scholl said.
The refugees have two plots in a community garden behind the Church of the Cross in north Modesto.
Gin Khual, who came to this country with his wife and three sons, is the primary gardener, but he recently had surgery.
So the volunteers helped Khual plant cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, sweet peas and other winter vegetables.
Scholl said the vegetables will help the refugee families prepare their meals without overspending on their food budget. They're also not used to canned vegetables, she said, so the fresh produce is just what they need.
"This enables these families to plant the vegetables they love," Pam Scholl said. "It makes this community feel like home to them."
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.