GREENFIELD — Their mom quipped they might not have been much help with landscaping.
But 3-year-old Hayden Lawson and little sister Mackenna Lawson, 1½, found their own important job to do.
The siblings and their mother, Karrie Lawson, were part of a team of volunteers who visited Golden LivingCenter — Brandywine to offer a helping hand and some cheer on a recent Saturday morning. Some group members worked outdoors on grounds upkeep; others went inside to visit with the seniors who live in the facility.
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Hayden and Mackenna walked the halls with their mother, handing out ice water and greeting residents, to whom a glimpse of youngsters was a welcome sight.
“All the residents were just eating them up,” Karrie Lawson said. “You could see everyone’s face light up.”
The Lawsons were among more than 900 volunteers who went out into the community July 15 to tackle tasks during Serve Day. The annual event is organized by Park Chapel Christian Church in Greenfield. Most of the volunteers are members of the church, although organizers said individuals from at least four other churches offered to serve too and were welcomed.
After giving cups of cold water, the Lawson children plopped onto a couch while their mother and Maxine Rich chatted in the lobby with resident Fannie Dunn, 92, and her daughter Amy Condo.
Later they went to the dining room, to join part of the Serve Day team that was coloring with residents at tables. Nearby, others were painting fingernails.
Resident Alga Lois Ivey was glad for the visit. “I love people,” she said, as Melissa Anness painted Ivey’s nails.
Anness, a recent New Palestine High School graduate, said she had wanted to participate in Serve Day for a long time and had told her family they needed to volunteer together.
“God has called us to love others and serve others,” Anness said. “We have so much — why not give others at least our time, if not more?”
The help at the facility was one of more than 50 projects tackled by volunteers. In addition to the volunteer labor offered, the church gathered items leading up to the event, such as jars of peanut butter for Hancock County Food Pantry and shoes for the Changing Footprints ministry.
Danny Curry, spiritual development minister at Park Chapel, said the church was grateful to all the groups who welcomed volunteers. He also said many members participate in community service throughout the year, but Serve Day is an opportunity to do so together, “a way for us all to express what we really want to be about.”
Connections happen from the event, he said, whether between people and an organization or between church members getting to know each other better.
“It’s a day that makes ripples,” he said.
Teams offered help and encouragement at nursing homes, yard work at schools in three local districts and organization for donations at Hancock County Food Pantry. The influx of labor also provided a way for local organizations, some of them facing small staffs and/or limited resources, to check a number of tasks off their to-do lists.
For example, several teams worked at parks — painting playground equipment at Commons Park, clearing flood debris in Riley Park, installing bollards at Brandywine Park and sealing boardwalks and observation decks in Beckenholdt Park and Thornwood Preserve.
Ellen Kuker, superintendent of Greenfield Parks and Recreation, said such work extends the life of park infrastructure and saves money that can be invested in other projects and amenities.
“Park Chapel’s Serve Day is such a benefit to the Greenfield Parks Department,” she wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter. “They are able to take projects that are labor intensive for our small staff and knock them out in a day as they bring so many out to volunteer.”
Candace Sexton, unit director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hancock County, mentioned the benefit of a large volunteer force to the club’s two full-time staff members. Serve Day volunteers cleaned two of the organization’s three vans for transporting children, organized and deep cleaned throughout the facility and painted a fence around a Dumpster.
“Between (Executive Director Chad Hudson) being out in the community raising funds and me being in the ‘trenches’ with our kids and running the facility, sometimes it can be hard to keep up on day-to-day maintenance, so we are very grateful for groups and individuals like those who came and helped us,” she wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter.
In the board room at the club, Amber Hudson was wiping down seats. She described Serve Day as a favorite day on the calendar.
“Our mission at Park Chapel,” she said, “is to share the love of Jesus by serving … and maybe expose them to a type of love they’re not familiar with through serving.”