GREENFIELD — Mandy Scott bent to yank another sprout from the plant bed.
This wasn’t just any weed she held in her gloved hands. It was poison ivy.
Scott, who said she’s not one to get the itchy rash often induced by the plant, spent part of the morning of July 16 weeding on the eastern edge of Riley Park, not far from the swimming pool. With other team members nearby, sweeping up debris in the parking lot and painting wooden posts, she was part of a larger effort by Park Chapel Christian Church to offer practical help throughout the community.
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They took away poison ivy here and left a fresh coat of paint there. They pulled weeds from a park flowerbed and left fresh mulch at a school.
For many among the 400 volunteers participating at various sites, these exchanges were part of a larger shift they hoped to make.
“If you turn on the news, there’s a lot of negativity, … (but) love trumps hate every time,” Simpson said. “That’s what we’re here to do.”
Simpson signed up for the church’s Serve Day online and asked simply to be assigned wherever there was a need. She was painting a bathroom at Brandywine Park with the McIntire family — Mark and Carrie and their five children, ranging in age from 2½ to 15.
“I want to instill serving in our kids,” Carrie McIntire said. “This is an easy local way to sort of do a mission trip.
“So many times it’s about me, me, me in our society. I want them to learn it’s not about just them.”
A few miles north of the park at Life Choices Care Center, Emily McIntyre echoed that hope.
“I want to set an example for my children,” she said. “You can’t expect them to do great things if you’re not doing great things.”
She was part of a group that hauled furniture and equipment out of the center to steam-clean the carpets and touch up paint at the center. Members of the group said the center was already pretty clean, but they were happy to help freshen it. They washed windows, sorted out expired products, and performed other tasks.
Vicki Smith, a Park Chapel member who serves on Life Choices’ board, said it was valuable to have such jobs completed by this team so day-to-day volunteers can focus on the center’s work with women facing unplanned pregnancies.
David Riggs said being part of the morning’s tasks fit with something Danny Curry, the church’s spiritual development minister, said about doing the next good thing God puts in front you.
Curry said he’s urged the congregation, “When you feel like ranting about something, why don’t you just go do something positive?”
He spoke in between painting railing and other tasks he was part of at Riley Park, where this year’s Serve Day concluded with an added event — a cookout in the park for the community. Young adults in the church’s Roaring Twenties group organized games for children and adults, and the God’s Open Arms ministry that feeds homeless people weekly set up grills to cook 400 hotdogs and even more hamburgers.
Curry was pleased by all the groups who came together to make Serve Day happen.
“They understand that going to church isn’t the most important thing. It’s being the church,” he said.