More than 90 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered at Glover Park in the town of Troy for a day of voluntary service Saturday, Sept. 10. The church's Hudson Ward, which includes members from as far north as New Richmond and Amery and as far south as River Falls, cleaned up the park as a part of a much larger program called "Mormon Helping Hands."
On that day around the country, thousands of members of the church organized to help their communities with anything from painting and cleaning parks to the clean-up efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
The Mormon Helping Hands program was established in 1998 and since then hundreds of thousands of volunteers have donated collectively, millions of hours of service to their communities.
In Hudson, armed in their trademark yellow and blue smocks members trimmed, weeded and edged the grounds, stripped and stained the benches and picnic tables, cleared and trimmed overgrowth from trails and primed the restrooms for the next week's members to paint.
The event was a family affair and an activity where everyone from grandparents wielding paint-brushes to children picking up trash on the trails could be found.
"The Town of Troy Park Board is delighted with the generosity of time and talents of church volunteers, youth and adults, from (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) who completed several projects at Glover Park," said Jill Berke, park chair.
Though this was a local example of how members of the church volunteer their time and efforts, the Mormon Helping Hands program is also known for its emergency response efforts.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina Latter-day Saint members were one of the first organized response teams on the scene. More recently, when the city of Minot, N.D., was flooded, members of the local congregation volunteered their time and efforts to drive from Hudson to Minot, where they stayed for three days at a time and returned, helping those whose homes were affected by the flooding of the Souris River.
Members say they get more out of the service than those they help and hope to make this an annual tradition.
"It was a blessing for us to work together here at Glover Park," said Bishop Tyler Hacking. "We could see the results of our efforts, and feel closer to this part of the community. We appreciate the support and help that came from the Park Board in giving us this opportunity."
More information about the Mormon Helping Hands program is available at www.lds.org.
The Hudson congregation meets at 9 a.m. Sundays, at 545 Stageline Road, across from the Hudson movie theater.