MODESTO — More than 100 people are needed to decorate pillowcases for wounded soldiers. About 80 volunteers can sign up to help with a community landscape improvement project. Twenty-one more people could help at Orchard Elementary School by pulling weeds, raking leaves, picking up trash and working on general landscaping maintenance.
The 50-plus projects for the next Love Modesto workday Saturday are listed on the organization's website, http://lovemodesto.com. There are five categories of service projects listed for Modesto: manual labor, encouragement, people in need, schools and neighborhoods.
Love Modesto, which began in 2009 with 1,200 volunteers, works with city, school and nonprofit leaders to identify projects that need extra help. Usually held twice a year, there will be only one workday in 2013 because the leaders are adding two extra projects this year: Love Our Neighbors and Love Our Schools.
Jeff Pishney, who founded Love Modesto as a way for his church, Big Valley Grace Community Church, to reach out to the community, said more than 2,000 people have signed up for the Modesto projects. There are similar programs on tap in 42 other cities, which are listed on the Love Modesto website and at www.loveourcities.org.
The program works like this: Volunteers gather at 9 a.m. in a central location in each city (in Modesto, that's in front of the Gallo Center for the Arts) for a short rally, then disperse to their projects, everything from taking cookies to firefighters to working in community gardens to spending time with new immigrant families. Most projects end by noon or 1 p.m.
This year, volunteers in Modesto can gather as early as 8 a.m. for music and giveaways, including Modesto Nuts T-shirts for all volunteers. Food and refreshments will be given out from Save Mart, Starbucks, Gold 'n Fresh Bakery, Coffee Plantation, Pepsi, Blue Diamond Growers, Del Monte, Foster Farms and others. A display of law enforcement vehicles, free massages and free balloons are planned.
Each participating city has Love leaders, who determine their projects and coordinate the volunteers. Volunteering is easy: Go to one of the websites, look over the projects and sign up for one. There are projects for families as well as individuals.
Although the program began as a way to connect people in Christian churches with needs in the community, volunteers now represent all faiths and no faith. Anyone who wants to improve his or her community is welcome, Pishney said.
Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2012.