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Ceres feels the love again
Approximately 120 persons showed up to show others love and compassion during Saturday's second-ever Love Ceres event.

The morning of community service and outreach was prompted by Big Valley Grace Church of Modesto in several communities, including Ceres, Modesto and Escalon. Other Christian churches joined in the Ceres effort. The first such work day was on April 2.

A smaller but more intimate group of volunteers turned out at the Ceres Community Center at 9 a.m. for words of encouragement and prayer and sent on their tasks for the morning.

"It went fantastic - it was better than we anticipated," said Becki Barton Nicholes, one of the organizers of Love Ceres. "It was less attended but neat things happened. A lot showed up the day of the event. Overall I would say it was as successful as the first one if not more intimate."

Richard Robinson took his guitar and headed over to Hale Aloha Convalescent Hospital. There a group led songs and visited with elderly and disabled residents.

Misty Bays led a group to reach out to teens at the Smyrna Park skatepark. There they passed out refreshments and food to the kids - including some kids from Ceres Youth Baseball - and visited to show they care.

"A genuine connection was made," said Bays.

Nicholes said the smaller morning crowd allowed for some one-on-one conversation. She noted that at first the kids were taken aback by the group's generosity but "then began calling friends to say, 'hey they are giving out free food over here.'"

Members of the Daisy Girl Scouts troop delivered cookies to police and fire and then wrote letters to members of the military.

A group volunteered to paint over graffiti at the Howard Stevenson Memorial Grove at the Ceres River Bluff Regional Park. Members of the late officer's family was also on hand to work.

Others helped to clean up Ceres parks.

The effort also drew a group from Victory Assembly of God church who prayed for the day's efforts.

Nicholes said she was most impacted by the group who helped a disabled military veteran whose yard was overrun with waist-high weeds. A crew from Home Depot turned out to work in the yard, filling a dumpster with debris.

"They were excited they could go out physically and do something and make a difference," said Nicholes of the volunteers.