'Love Merced' volunteers aim to beautify, retore city

Effort will tackle tasks to make city cleaner

abutt@mercedsunstar.comApril 14, 2012 

If you want to beautify Merced and make it a cleaner city, then "Love Merced" is the group for you.

There are a total of 57 projects to complete for the group that's modeled after "Love Modesto," which gives community members a chance to help their city, according to Aubrey Nelson, volunteer project coordinator.

The first event by "Love Merced" will take place later on this month. Other cities, such as Mariposa, Madera and Sacramento, are also kicking off their events on April 28.

"It's a community effort," Nelson said.

She let churches in the area know about the group's efforts to get volunteers.

Some of the projects include cleaning up the Beachwood-Lobo area, cleaning bike paths in the city, and collecting food for the Merced County Food Bank. There will also be lawn mowing, weeding and flower planting at schools across town. Volunteers will also paint restrooms in city parks and clean up litter.

Pete Prieto, 41, will volunteer in the Beachwood-Lobo area by tidying the Joe Stefani Elementary School, as well as helping with other projects. "It's a good way to reach out and serve the community," he said.

He and his family, including his three kids, will volunteer with the group. "Personally, I feel that serving the community instills good morals into our children," he said.

Prieto said there are litter and graffiti problems all over town and the projects will show that people care about Merced.

For example, there aren't sidewalks in the Beachwood area for kids to walk on, so he and others plan on tearing down an old cattle fence near Lobo Avenue, which would help provide a safer route for kids to get to school.

There are 200 volunteers signed up for the projects, but the group is looking to recruit 1,000 to 1,500 volunteers, Nelson said.

The group will hold a second "Love Merced" event in September.

"Love Merced" will kick off at 9 a.m. at Applegate Park and organizers expect to complete all the projects a few hours later, according to Nelson.

To see and sign up for projects, visit http://lovemerced.com. The deadline to sign up is April 22.

Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or abutt@mercedsunstar.com.

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