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Mormon clean-up effort sweeps Los Angeles area and the state

May 8, 2010 |  2:46 pm

As many as 70,000 volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fanned out Saturday across the state to help spruce up parks and recreation areas that have been neglected due to the California budget crisis.

Hundreds of people wearing yellow  “Mormon Helping Hands” vests rolled up their sleeves to help on numerous sites in the Los Angeles area. Volunteers raked debris at the Bird Sanctuary in Griffith Park, painted fences at Jessie Owens Park in Inglewood, picked up trash at the Sepulveda Dam, and cleaned up the playground area at a home for abused children in San Dimas.

“The Mormon church does community service all the time, not just one day of the year. By organizing it on a given day and by getting a huge number of people involved, it makes them feel like they are part of something much bigger,” said Matthew Ball, a spokesman for the Mormon church.

Rex Stevens and his wife, Marsha, of Westchester  were at Jessie Owens Park all morning, along with more than 300 other volunteers.

“When we showed up it was just a place that needed some attention,” said Rex Stevens, a local church leader.

“We painted, we swept, we scraped and washed,” said Marsha Stevens. “The curbing was very faded. Now it’s cheerful red. The planters are also now filled with roses.”

People of all ages joined forces to help.

“I saw 4- to 8-year-olds painting and doing things next to their parents. I saw a bunch of people in their 70s,” said Rex Stevens. “They will learn from this that work is fun. Doing things with other people is fun.”

-- Ching-Ching Ni