Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Center’s women’s shelter in Seaside swarmed with volunteers painting and gardening Sept. 19 for the 2015 Day of Service, organized by the Rainier Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Across U.S. Highway 101, church members, their families and friends completed projects at Helping Hands’ emergency and men’s shelters. Down the road near Avenue J, others weeded the Railroad Park community garden, while a group of young people held a car wash at the NAPA Sunset Auto Parts parking lot.

“We wanted to have activities that fit each age group and that would be comfortable, so everyone would have something they could contribute within their ability,” organizer Shannon Symonds said.

The Day of Service is put on annually by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Rainier Stake — which includes wards from Seaside, Warrenton, Astoria, Rainier, St. Helens, Scappoose and the Long Beach Peninsula — selected Seaside as its focus area for the community service event. Symonds, who joined the Helping Hands board of directors a few weeks prior to the event, selected the Helping Hands cause with her husband Scott. She and Scott are co-chairs of the Day of Service this year.

Family and friends of church members always are encouraged to attend, but this year, the stake joined forces with Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church and Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church for the Day of Service. About 150 people showed up to volunteer, Symonds said.

Astoria’s Camilla Ward has participated in the event in the past. She said the joint effort this year was a nice touch.

“I think this year has been even cooler, because we’ve combined with other faiths,” she said.

Lisa Herr, a Warrenton resident, said she appreciated the groups venturing outside their own organizations to serve the larger community.

The group worked throughout the morning, and then gathered for a potluck on the beach about 1 p.m.

During the potluck, Symonds said, one of the youth shared what the Day of Service means, emphasizing service to others as a way to serve God.

“We believe that everything we have is a gift from God and should be passed on through service and in any way we are able,” Symonds said.

“We’re here as God’s people, because we are so blessed to be a blessing to others,” Pastor Rob Sachs added. “It’s in that spirit, I believe we come together.”

The youth car wash raised about $170, which went to Helping Hands. Church members who couldn’t attend still pitched in by putting together loads of sheets, towels, pillow cases, hygiene kits and other items for Helping Hands clients, Symonds said.

A number of local businesses and agencies helped facilitate the event by offering parking lot space or donating materials and equipment. Those donors included NAPA Sunset Auto Parts, Pacific Paint, All Rents, Sherwin Williams, Ace Hardware, Westwind Landscape Supply, Borland Coastal Electric, Quackenbush Builders, Coastal Roofing and Repair, the Seaside Safeway, City of Seaside, Seaside Police Department, Sunset Empire Parks & Recreation, Dr. Roof and Adamson Bro’s Mixed Martial Arts and Jiu Jitsu Academy.

“In a community, we should all work together,” Symonds said. “I really love seeing the city get together to serve.”


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