GREENFIELD — Sometimes it happens through a handwritten note.
Other times, it’s through a pile of weeds.
No matter the method, they’re hoping to make a connection.
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Members of Bradley United Methodist Church set out to do just that on a recent Saturday morning, with some groups carrying spades and rakes and one wielding pens and boxes of cards for a day of giving back.
They all gathered at the church for a brief devotional time before heading to their assignments.
For Gary Locke and the Thurston family, the task was cleaning gutters and weeding.
“It makes me feel useful,” said Lucas Thurston, 13, who picked up clippings as Locke trimmed bushes.
Lucas also was working at the site with twin brother Levi and their parents, Scott and Amy.
“It’s definitely a good lesson for the kids,” Amy Thurston said.
Their group was one of several that set out to help some older local homeowners with their outdoor upkeep. When the church has a service day, usually one in the spring and one in the fall, groups help a few fellow church members and sometimes other community residents recommended by Hancock County Senior Services, which maintains a list of client needs.
Ruthie Sparks said she received a text from a fellow church member about one of the crews coming to her home.
“I was excited,” Sparks said as Diana Wells dug weeds from between bricks in a walkway. Nearby, Grant Imes and John Wells pulled weeds and trimmed bushes. “I’ll take any help I can get.”
Linda Crawford was part of a weeding and shrub-trimming crew at the home of some neighbors in a season of health issues that would make yard work a daunting task, she said.
“It’s a little thing that we can do, but yet, it helps,” said Julie Rogers, pulling weeds a few yards from the cart Crawford was loading with clippings. “It just becomes overwhelming for them.”
Nearby, Mike Reder clipped a bush and remembered a service day last year when he replaced a soffit at one man’s home — doing what he could to help the man get by until he could call in a professional, working to fill a gap between the man’s wall and roof to keep out rain, snow or animals.
Though Bradley has some long-standing community traditions — such as hosting a preschool and serving meals during the Riley Festival in October — through Community Service Day and other recent efforts, the downtown Greenfield church is looking for additional ways to engage with local residents.
“We want people to know we’re here for them out in the community,” said Bill Murphy.
He and fellow members of the card-writing team had a list of people to write to that included not only fellow church members but also others in the community, such as local officials.
“I think they need to know we’re behind them, too,” said Deborah Smith.
Heather Cress, Bradley’s family life community leader, said the Rev. Dave Scifres and others at the church have sought out new ways to serve local residents. For example, this spring the church brought an Easter egg hunt back to Riley Park by organizing one there for the community.
“It was about reaching out and making relationships and being among our neighbors,” Cress said.
“They really looked at what the community needs. We’re finding the areas and reaching out.”