More than 800 ready to ‘Love Merced’

A day of garbage pickup, painting, yardwork and other projects around town, Love Merced is on pace to attract more volunteers than ever.

Eric Hamm, one organizer, said about 850 have already signed up to be part of about 30 projects throughout Merced. That’s about 250 more than the average day of service has drawn.

Hamm said people are becoming familiar with the effort. “This is easily going to be the biggest event we’ve ever done,” he said.

The group of volunteers will meet just before 9 a.m. Saturday at Applegate Park, 1045 W. 25th St. From there they will roll up their sleeves and get to cleaning, painting and doing yardwork throughout the community.

For those less inclined to get dirty or do any heavy lifting, organizers need donations for future efforts and for care packages. Merced County Blue Star Mothers and Families are making care packages for men and women in the military. The packages will include food, toiletries and other items.

The different projects give people opportunities to get involved where they can. “There really is something for everybody,” Hamm said.

Trash pickup and general cleaning efforts are a major focus of the day. Teams will walk through McNamara, Rahilly and Applegate parks, as well as Farmdale Elementary and Herbert Hoover Middle schools.

Organizers said they will double up on the number of people cleaning out Bear Creek this year, because the California drought will make access to the creek bed relatively easy. “We can get more out of the creek this year than we’ve been able to get before,” said Aubrey Nelson, another organizer.

Volunteers with trucks – particularly those with winches – are still needed, organizers said. Trash, shrubbery and other items need to be moved around from the project sites.

Gloves, trash grabbers, paper towels and cleaning supplies are needed for many of the projects. Nelson said workers could also use a couple of less common supplies – WD-40 to remove gum and Round-up herbicide to kill weeds.

Local businesses and churches donate money, which is used for supplies and signage for the event.

According to its website, Love Merced started as a result of the success of the Love Modesto event in 2007.

To sign up for any of the projects, go to http://lovemerced.com. The site also includes lists of items needed for either the work and the care packages.