July 21, 2011 in Washington Voices

Community volunteers work to clean up neighborhood schools

By The Spokesman-Review

Volunteers work on the landscaping at Barker High School as part of the annual Summer of Service event organized by three Spokane Valley Churches. The volunteers worked at several schools in the Central Valley School District.
(Full-size photo)

Over the weekend, around 300 volunteers from three area churches gathered at schools in the Central Valley School District to participate in the Summer of Service.

The volunteers worked on the school’s landscaping, making the outside of the buildings look nice before students get back to school in the fall.

“We did what we set out to do,” said Matt King, children’s pastor at Eastpoint Church and one of the organizers. His church partnered with One Church and Valley Assembly of God to gather volunteers for the event. “There were a lot of people that worked really hard.”

At Barker High School, a former elementary school, volunteers worked to dismantle the old playground equipment to move it to Opportunity Elementary School.

At other locations, volunteers worked on the landscaping of the schools, cleaning up tree branches in the flowerbeds at Greenacres Middle School, sanding and staining the benches and flower boxes at Progress Elementary, sanding and staining the storage shed and benches at North Pines Middle School and more.

King estimated the work of the volunteers saved the district in between $13,000 to $14,000. Not to mention the time and work the projects saved the custodians at the school.

“The custodians loved it,” he said. “People loved it.”

This is the third year the churches have gathered to volunteer in the community. King said it started when members of his church asked themselves how the community would be affected if the church were ever to close its doors.

“Who do we want to be a blessing to?” they asked themselves.

They started with projects in Spokane County, but the school district seemed a better fit. King said the children he works with in the church put a face on the project for him.

“How can you not help kids?” he asked.

Now that this year’s event is in the books, King is looking forward to planning next year’s event. He hopes in the future more churches will join in the clean-up activities and the project can expand to other school districts.

“We’re going to get there,” he said. “We will.”

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