Small armies of volunteers showed up at residences on Saturday morning to clean up for people who are physically unable to do so. They were among a myriad of projects included in "Love Ceres," a faith-based organization of work projects designed to help others and improve the appearance Ceres.
All throughout Ceres, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, volunteers turned out to help people they didn't even know.
"We are still reeling with excitement for all the volunteers who came out and loved Ceres Saturday," said Becki Nicholes, one of the chief event organizers. "What an amazing Love Ceres event."
Approximately 300 people signed up for job tasks through the loveceres.com website but more turned on the day of the event.
Gary and Jenny Weese, long-time Ceres residents and members of Ceres Christian Church, volunteered to clean up some yards of residents who are not physically able to keep up. Gary, who owns GJ Lawn Service, said he enjoys helping others.
"I had a very stressful job but now that I'm kind of retired - I have my own landscape business - I always wanted to do things like this in my spare time, do a lot of volunteer work," said Weese. "I just want to help out a little bit. It's like my business, I help a lot of mostly elderly ladies on Social Security. I don't charge an arm or a leg but I just enjoy what I do ... doing nice things around the neighborhoods. I love Ceres."
A number of young people who receive services from Project YES (Youth Employment Services) were recruited to clean up the highway frontage road area north and south of Hatch Road. Douglas Kreiter said Love Ceres was a good way to finish up the required 40 hours of community service while making a difference in the Hatch Road commercial shopping district.
"Nobody wants to get up early and do this type of work but it teaches them a sense of civic-ness," said Dustin Pack, the director of Project YES.
A number of high school students spent time in the warm sun clearing weeds of the property owned by Caltrans opposite Ceres High School.
A big crew turned out to clean up the city-owned Clinton Whitmore Mansion.
"This is the place to be," said Lisa Mantarro Moore, president of the Clinton Whitmore Mansion Foundation, the group which is helping the city to operate the 1903 home. "Everybody is here, inside and out."
The Whitmore Mansion crew included Councilman Ken Lane who took a chainsaw to overgrown brush taking over the western edge of the property. The entire family of State Senator Anthony Cannella worked on the site as did former City Councilman Eric Ingwerson and former Ceres Police Deputy Chief Mike Borges and wife Susan who lent muscle for manual labor projects. Work details included cleaning debris from the yard. A crew from Home Depot brought in donated materials for a new garden fence. Shane Parson, owner of Diamond Bar Arena and a property owner in downtown, donated his time dumping all the green waste cut out of the historic property.
"We've got weddings booked here between May 30 and October," said Mantarro Moore. "We're weeding and putting a fresh coat of stuff here and there. It's a lot of work for people on a regular basis but to have a team come in and do it all at one time is huge and saves the city cost and worrying about doing stuff the city can't."
Goodies for babies and pregnant moms were distributed at a Community Baby Shower, held from 10 a.m. to noon for the women who otherwise would have had no baby shower. Food, prizes for the moms and games were held at the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children office on Fourth Street.
A crew of people that included City Manager Toby Wells and Community Development Director Tom Westbrook, delivered tools to work sites.
At Hale Aloha Convalescent Hospital in Ceres, visitors cheered up residents.
Members of the Ceres Rotary Club, including Ceres Unified School District Supt. Scott Siegel, barbecued hotdogs for workers at the Community Center.
Other Love Ceres projects included a kiddie carnival at Village Chapel Free-Will Baptist Church, clean-up of trash and weed pulling along public right of ways, and the feeding of volunteers by the Ceres Rotary Club at the Community Center.
Jeff Pichney of Big Valley Grace started Love Modesto and it was spread to Ceres partially through the efforts of Bryan and Becki Nicholes.