An army of 150 men, women and children, all wearing yellow "Mormon Helping Hands" bibs will be attacking Beltzville State Park on Saturday, April 27, to clear debris on trails and in the picnic areas caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Among them will be Gary Schoenberger, high priest group leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Beltzville, who is the local project leader for the "Saturday in the Park" service project.
Schoenberger said that the volunteers will meet between 8 and 9 a.m. in the chapel parking lot to begin the project. He said that everyone should come prepared to do some heavy work. He noted that workers should bring protective eye wear, gloves, rakes and shovels, along with wearing sturdy foot wear.
Targeted areas are the Wild Creek Trail and Boat Launch A picnic areas.
"We will be picking up debris and cutting up brush and downed trees," said Schoenberger.
"There will be fire wood available," said Schoenberger.
Saturday in the Park is a major service project of Mormon Helping Hands, covering 19 State and Community parks in Pennsylvania. Mormon Helping Hands is a public service program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As part of this project, volunteers will be attacking dozens of overgrown trails, rusting or weather-worn signs and light posts, as well as numerous other projects in parks throughout the state.
Thousands of residents are expected to participate across the Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Ohio and West Virginia.
Schoenberger said that the parks are due to open on May 31 and with budget cuts, they would never be ready for the public without these volunteers helping prepare for the opening.
In a special proclamation, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has endorsed April 27 as a day to volunteer in local and state parks in Pennsylvania. Mormon Helping Hands has offered to lend the spirit and muscle of its members to this day of volunteerism.
In his proclamation, the Governor has said, "I commend all those involved in organizing this initiative and I hope that this event is successful in attacking many volunteers to serve on this day." He goes on to further say, "I hope that the dedication and leadership demonstrated by these participants motivates and inspires other citizens."
Signed on to take part in the Beltzville project are Lehighton, Pottsville, Hometown and Kutztown congregations, as well as other community groups will be supporting this statewide effort.
Recently, Pennsylvania and Delaware residents took part in a Mormon Helping Hands effort that drew more than 30,000 volunteers who contributed over 280,000 hours to post-Sandy relief in New York and New Jersey.
Schoenberger said that the Lehighton branch is growing and has plans to expand its chapel as new members come on board.
"We are up to 70 plus membership," said Schoenberger. "The Church is growing globally by a 1,000 converts a day."
For more information about volunteering for the Saturday in the Park service project or the church call Schoenberger at (484) 629-4916.