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Modesto gets its annual dose of love

Modesto gets its annual dose of love

Thousands of volunteers took part in Love Modesto, an annual event that is designed to both celebrate the community and help fix it up.
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Thousands of volunteers took part in Love Modesto, an annual event that is designed to both celebrate the community and help fix it up.

With pens and shovels, paint brushes and litter bags, Modesto got its love in a big way on Saturday.

Thousands of volunteers took part in Love Modesto, an annual event that is designed to both celebrate the community and help fix it up.

The day got off to an early start, with the Gregori High School football team arriving at 4 a.m. to set up the rally, which kicked off four hours later at the Gallo Center for the Arts downtown. Then volunteers met up with project leaders and headed out to one of dozens of projects planned around town.

Carrie and Tim Smith brought out their children, Lexi, 8, and Channing, 6.

“We’re excited to be out with the community and doing something good for a change,” Lexi Smith said.

For the Smiths, who were headed to help beautify Somerset Middle School with other members of their church, it’s definitely a family affair.

“Our daughter always asks us about recycling and volunteering,” Carrie Smith said. “This is a good opportunity to show her what it looks like to give back to your community.”

Family also brought out Deanna Ruiz, who last year worked along McHenry Avenue with her father. This year, she brought along Thomas Herrera, who came because, Ruiz said, “I signed him up.”

Ruiz said they live near McHenry and “like to see our streets clean.”

Other projects ranged from collecting pajamas for needy local children to sprucing up area roadways to painting park equipment and filling in fresh bark. At Fairview Park in south Modesto, Love Modesto coincided with the South Modesto Partnership’s “Day of the Child.” Children took part in activities while their parents learned about opportunities through the Stanislaus County Police Activities League and other organizations.

Volunteers also cleaned up an area along Briggsmore Avenue, played games with residents of the Dale Commons retirement community and cleaned up Modesto Citizens Cemetery.

Jennifer and Zoe Statzer were going to El Vista School, where Jennifer’s husband attended.

This is the Stetzers’ “fifth or sixth year” taking part in the effort. They enjoy it so much they also go to other communities’ “Love” events.

Love Modesto started in 2007 with members of Big Valley Grace Community Church, who were concerned that Modesto landed on several “worst places to live” lists. The first event, in 2009, brought out 1,200 volunteers and the effort has grown every year. It also has expanded to include more than 50 cities across the country.

Jennifer Stetzer said she would like to see it grow even more: “More people need to get out there and share our appreciation and love for each other.”

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