By Amanda Rogers
Six-year-old Calia Gildersleeve scrubbed a fire engine. Jaida Yorke, 10, painted a cross on a rock. Rob Sanders and Scott Meyer built doghouses. And K.J. Weaver sweated through his shirt staining fences.
On Sunday, volunteers from Creekwood Church spread out across the community, working on dozens of projects to better the community. Working together, they cleaned yards, sorted food items, rebuilt steps, carted off trash, replaced fences and worked on various other projects that homeowners and local nonprofit groups needed done.
“Instead of going to church that day, we are the church,” explained Jim Hampton, outreach pastor at Creekwood. “One of our core values at Creekwood is to serve.”
For the fourth year, the majority of the church – between 600 and 700 people – participated.
“We have a project for every age and skill set,” Hampton explained, “from building wheelchair ramps or serving single parents or major landscaping, like cutting trees and bushes. The homeowner can’t do it financially or physically.
“It’s my Christmas for my job,” he said. “It’s why I do what I do. It’s a day that’s celebrated. Everybody wants to serve but life gets in the way. One day a year we plan for it.”
Ca'lee Hernandez of Mansfield watched as her 4-year-old son, Noah, took his turn on the fire hose, dousing one of the big engines at Fire Station No. 5.
“It’s giving back to the community,” she said. “I want to teach Noah to go out and serve, that’s what we do. You’ve got to teach them young, you know.”
Christina Yorke of Arlington admired the cross her daughter painted on a rock. She painted a heart, and planned to write a Bible verse and the word “Hope” on her own rock. A roomful of children and teens spent the morning at the city’s environmental center painting encouraging words and symbols on rocks, which they intend to distribute around the city.
“I want to spread joy throughout the community as well as God’s word,” she said. “I hope that it will put a smile on somebody’s face.”
In the environmental center garage, a crew worked to build seven doghouses for the Mansfield Animal Shelter.
“What better way to serve than to serve dogs?” asked crew chief Anna Hernandez. “They’re part of God’s creation. We are called to be the hands and feet of God.”
Across town at the Breezy Oaks mobile home park, another crew swabbed stain on the fence facing Cardinal Oaks Drive. With the temperature hovering around 93 degrees at 10:30 a.m., most of the group had sweated through their shirts and were gulping water. But they were still in a good mood.
“My wife and I lead a group of young couples,” said Steve Medina of Mansfield. “Everybody in our group is blessed and we want to give back to the community.”
Hampton knows that there are a variety of reasons that people are called to serve. And he says they receive something in return.
“When we avail ourselves to help others, God starts working in our lives, too,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll touch some people’s lives, whether we’re serving or being served.”
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.