A sea of yellow descended on Cañada Vista Park in Rancho Santa Margarita last weekend, and when the tide rolled out, the park had a new look.
More than 200 volunteers with Mormon Helping Hands from the Santa Margarita Stake were involved. Decked out in their yellow vests, they were part of an estimated 70,000 Helping Hands volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who joined in efforts statewide to restore parks throughout California on April 28.
“Service is a great way for families to be together," said Olympic gold medalist Peter Vidmar, a member of the Santa Margarita Stake presidency. "Children get to see their parents and older siblings working on a project. One of the goals of the annual Mormon Helping Hands event is that service will become a natural part of our members’ lives.”
The three major projects at Cañada Vista were painting the skateboard park from brown to red, pulling thorny thistle plants and spreading a six-foot high mulch pile to beautify the grounds.
SAMLARC, the local landscape and recreation association, provided the paint, brushes and mulch while Mormon Helping Hands volunteers provided wheelbarrows, shovels, tools and the manpower.
Partnership with Mormon Helping Hands is not new for SAMLARC. In 2010, the park restoration project was centered on the dog park and slope maintenance.
“SAMLARC has been a great help in making arrangements to partner with the community," said Ken Gibson, Mormon Helping Hands chairman.
The six-foot-high mulch pile was a flurry of activity as long as volunteers had enough empty wheelbarrows.
Participants were glad for an occasional break from the labor, and getting to the last project, the thorny thistle plants, was quite an undertaking.
Mitch and Samantha Crowley wanted to bring their 2 1/2-year-old son, Ethan, to teach him the value of work. Little Ethan, dressed in his yellow vest, threw falling thistle tops into the growing pile while the adults were digging these feisty plants out of the ground.
And when it was over, all could cake credit for improving the park's appearance. Even the littlest volunteers.