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Mormon church devotes month to community

Service projects will improve school, parks, cemetery and family homes

If you drive by East Farms Elementary School today in Newman Lake and see 300 men, women and children wielding paintbrushes, feel free to jump in and help.

Organizers will be delighted.

The school-painting project is the kick-off event for an upcoming September filled with service projects throughout the Inland Northwest, sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon church.

Church members will volunteer in a dozen or more projects, but September’s “global days of service” are not intended as insular efforts.

“We encourage anyone who wants to come,” said Alicia Mattoon, the church’s director of media relations. “You don’t stand around wondering what to do. There is something for everything. All year long, we look for something we can do of benefit.”

The East Farms Elementary painting initiative was inspired, in part, by the failure of the East Valley School District bond in April.

The school is in need of some tender loving care. In time for the first day of school Sept. 7, the elementary school will have a fresh coat of beige paint, with brown trim.

“I’ll be here and others (from the school) will too,” said Tammy Fuller, principal of East Farms. “This is what the community is about.”

Also in September:

• Church members in each Spokane ward will complete home improvement repairs for an active-duty military family with a family member deployed, or for a veteran family.

• Spokane West church members will expand and improve Medical Lake’s community cemetery on Sept. 17.

• Also on Sept. 17, North Idaho church members will clean along the railway throughout the city of Plummer, Idaho.

• On Sept. 24, Spokane North church members will clean up Camp Sekani, a Spokane Parks and Recreation natural area along Upriver Drive. Volunteers will also create new biking and hiking trails.

How can non-Mormons find out which projects are going on when? The website (www.dayofservicenanwa.org) is a good start. Or, as Mattoon said, “Ask an LDS friend.”

And you can always jump into the action if you happen to drive by the many locations in September where people will be working together on a common project.

Consider it an antidote to the helplessness we sometimes feel in light of world events, Mattoon said. Indeed, the day of service initiative began a decade ago, in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Helpless feelings often dissipate when you get involved and today, 300 volunteers will be busily painting away at East Farms.

“If five people were painting that building, it would be a huge job,” Mattoon said. “But when you have 300 people show up, no one has to break a sweat.”



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