HANFORD — Getting your hands dirty by the roadside may be an activity discouraged by parents most days, but 8-year-old Lannah Barth and her sister Maelee, 6, and their friend Lauren Harris, 8, embraced the opportunity Saturday morning to help plant new perennials in a street flower bed in downtown Hanford.

“I feel happy that I get to plant something so these (areas) look prettier,” said Lannah.

Maelee and Lauren were also smiling as they finished planting those Lily of the Nile at East and Seventh streets.

“My favorite part was planting, planting the flowers,” Maelee said.

Lauren added, “I feel good that we get to help the country.”

The three young girls were among dozens of youths who took part in Saturday’s  Mormon Helping Hands community day of service in Hanford. More than 120 people — many of them families — came out Saturday to volunteer to help clean up the historic business district for the annual spring cleanup.

Volunteers fanned out across the area stretching from the Amtrak depot to 10th Avenue to pick up debris and sweep up trash to be loaded into large containers and hauled off while also replanting street flower beds along the way.

The annual LDS event brings volunteers together for a day of service in hundreds of different communities across California. Locally, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Hanford Stake teamed up with the Hanford Garden Club, Main Street Hanford and the city to take on a full downtown cleanup and beautification effort.

And thanks to their work, Hanford is a little bit cleaner and a little bit greener.

“We appreciate the opportunity to serve our community,” said Paul Thompson, spokesman for the Hanford event. “We’d like to thank Main Street Hanford and the city of Hanford for their cooperation.”

A dedicated corps of volunteers was seen downtown sprucing up the area often considered as a point of pride for Hanford. Just within the first two hours of the event, the volunteers collected enough garbage and illegally dumped mattresses, couches and tires while scouring through the alleyways of downtown to fill four large roll-off dump containers parked near China Alley.

City crews followed right after them to water the planters and clean up some more.

Mayor Sue Sorensen, who took part in the event along with other city officials, has said in a press release that a project like this helps foster community pride.

“As a community, we can step forward to preserve our parks and streetscapes by providing supportive members to improve our city, which is saving the staff and our city in finances,” Sorensen stated. “Doing this builds community pride. The city of Hanford appreciates the efforts of its community members to maintain this quality of life.”

And community pride is exactly what William McIlwaine  said he felt as he took part in the event.

“It’s a lot of work, but we get a lot of good people out here helping out,” McIlwaine said. “We just want to help our town look a little bit nicer. When you drive by, you know you helped with that. You have some stock in it. You know you and your family and church friends were part of it, so it makes you feel a little bit of pride in your community.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2429 or eyamashita@HanfordSentinel.com.

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