Volunteers lend helping hands for Community Service Day projects

Volunteers at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley.
Volunteers pose for a picture before beginning a park beautification project at Mile Square Park on Saturday in Fountain Valley.
(Andrew Turner)

Scores of volunteers rose early Saturday morning to take part in a joint day of community service in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach.

A collective of 25 projects organized with the help of the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council required helping hands.

Projects across the two cities ranged from a blood drive and food donations, to beautification tasks such as painting, planting and city sign restoration.


At Mile Square Park, dozens arrived on time to help members of Fountain Valley’s public works department revitalize a section of the town’s central gathering place. Greeted by Fountain Valley Mayor Pro Tem Glenn Grandis and Councilman Ted Bui, the group proceeded to plant some 500 plants in the soil alongside a walkway on the back side of the park.

Afton Fieldson, daughters Jasmine and Azalea, and husband Tony in a Community Service Day project.
Afton Fieldson, daughters Jasmine and Azalea, and her husband Tony, from left, partake in a Community Service Day project at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley on Saturday.
(Andrew Turner)

Afton Fieldson, a Fountain Valley resident, joined her husband, Tony, and daughters Azalea and Jasmine in the volunteer effort. Azalea stood on a shovel, helping her dad dig deeper into the dirt.

Fieldson said it was the first time her daughters had taken part in the community service day activities.

“This is the first time that our girls are actually old enough to help, to be honest,” Fieldson said. “It’s exciting, [to] get out with the community, focus on a project that’s benefiting the community together, and we teach them that this is probably going to be our way of life.”

In the shadow of the Fountain Valley library, another project gave a historical property a fresh look at Heritage Park.

Jimmy Lang, 10, a fourth-grader at Gisler Elementary in Fountain Valley, was part of the team, along with his mother, brother and sister. His father was engaged in a separate community service project.

Volunteers work on a Community Service Day project at Heritage Park.
Volunteers work on a Community Service Day project at Heritage Park in Fountain Valley on Saturday.
(Andrew Turner)

Wearing a shirt representing his parents’ roofing company, Jimmy was scraping old paint off a Fountain Valley house when he shared some thoughts about learning a blue-collar skill set at an early age.

“It’s kind of fun doing the work because then you get to learn new things, how to do it, and you can do it when you’re an adult and you can teach your kids,” Jimmy, a Huntington Beach resident, said.

Crossing the border into Huntington Beach, all hands were on deck for the packing of ingredients to assist the nonprofit Rise Against Hunger.

Marsha Rechsteiner, who coordinated the project at Saints Simon & Jude Catholic Church, said this was the sixth time she has headed the collaboration. She added that it is a unique project on Community Service Day because of the fundraising element to purchase the ingredients.

Volunteers put shovels in the dirt for a planting project at Mile Square Park.
Volunteers put shovels in the dirt for a planting project at Mile Square Park for Community Service Day on Saturday.
(Andrew Turner)

On this occasion, the volunteers put together 2,000 packages for those in need. The packages contained protein, rice, soy and nutritional goods, enough to serve five meals apiece.

“I know that little piece of [Community Service Day] that we do with Rise Against Hunger, some say, ‘Well, it’s really not good, it doesn’t help this community,’” Rechsteiner said. “For me, the community part of it is the people working together for a common good. That, to me, is really what it’s all about, not only doing good stuff, but doing it together as a community.

“We just happen to be feeding a lot of people that probably aren’t going to have enough food to eat and may live thousands of miles away, out of this country. For me, it’s a service to a community.”