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Good deeds on tap for 'Love Ceres'
Valentine's Day is about expressing love to those closest to us. But the goal of the "Love Ceres" event on April 2 is more about extending acts of love to strangers.

"It's a great way for the community to give back to itself in a lot of ways," said Bryan Nicholes, who is helping to spearhead Love Ceres.

Bryan and his wife, Becki, attend Big Valley Grace Church in Modesto and learned about the Love Modesto event on April 2. The program was initiated in 2007 in response to Modesto appearing on national lists of the worst places to live and asking: "If all the churches in Modesto disappeared would anyone notice?" Several churches decided to get together and garner support for projects to "take care of things that fall through the cracks," said Nicholes.

Since the Nicholes's live in Ceres, they asked if the effort could be expanded for outlying cities like Ceres. The church decided to promote a Love Ceres event as well as Love Escalon and Love Riverbank all on the same Saturday.

"The community has done clean-ups before," said Nicholes, "but this is a totally totally different type of thing."

Over 40 people - some who don't attend a church - have already signed up for a list of projects in the first annual Love Ceres event. Leaders for specific projects will be calling up individuals for assignments, said Nicholes. Projects include:

• Delivering cookies to public safety employees;

• Neighborhood and park clean up;

• Visiting seniors in retirement homes;

• Donating blood;

• Collecting food for local food pantries;

• Helping elderly and disabled Ceres residents with yard work;

• Working at the Faith Home Teen Challenge Ranch.

"Many of them are kid friendly," said Nicholes of the projects.

In addition, approximately five hosts with vehicles are needed to welcome refugees who have located here from Iraq and Iran and give them a tour of their new city, Ceres.

"The goal is to go out there and just love on people," said Nicholes, who is also the fire chief of Ceres.

Another group will be praying God to bless the day's volunteer efforts from a base at the Ceres Community Center.

He said the ultimate goal is to have volunteers continue serving the community on a regular basis.

"Like if there is God's calling on their heart to visit the people at retirement homes, we'd encourage that."

The day will start out with a 9 a.m. gathering for instructions at the Ceres Community Center, 2701 Fourth Street.

Persons interested in the jobs offered during Love Ceres may sign up through its website, or The deadline for sign-ups is March 27.

Another Love Ceres day will be planned for June 25.