Bayside Church parishioners serve it up

An estimated 7,000 volunteers contribute to Serve Day
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Bayside Church cancelled services this past weekend.

They called off services at all four of their campuses, including in Granite Bay. But church leaders didn't have people stay home. Instead, they asked their some 12,000 congregants to roll up their sleeves and "do church" as part of the inaugural Serve Day Saturday and Sunday.

An estimated 7,000 people participated, said Outreach Ministries Pastor Jim Holst. Serve Day marked Bayside's largest-ever community service event with parishioners doing work at the Granite Bay, Lincoln, Folsom and Sacramento campuses.

Volunteers painted, cleaned, sewed, assembled and more as part of 120 projects held throughout the region. Rocklin resident Cathi Warner volunteered with about 150 other people to pack 200 lunches and clothing to distribute at Loaves and Fishes in Sacramento.

"It was by far one of the best things I've ever done," Warner said, adding, "No one has ever shut down a church before and said 'be the church.' That was very cool."

Senior Pastor Ray Johnston came up with the idea to shut down church for a weekend to "unleash our compassion in the community," Holst said. The point is to not just say you care about the community - but to show it.

The largest project during Serve Day involved a garage sale on Bayside's Granite Bay campus that raised $30,000 with all the proceeds going to local charities that provide services such as homeless outreach, free health and dental clinics and more.

Another large project took place at Maidu Village Apartments, a government-subsidized housing development for low-income seniors. Volunteers assembled new patio furniture, constructed garden trellises and cleaned 70 rooms for residents with disabilities.

Volunteers also engaged in clean-up projects at several high schools, donated blood at a BloodSource van and helped at a banquet for 400 people with special needs.

"I had the privilege of going out to many sites, and I don't cry much but I have to admit there were tears in my eyes many times," Holst said. "All the volunteers had an amazing attitude ... and my favorite part was seeing fathers and mothers working with their little children."

He said it's easy to forget how much work can get done when people come together for a common cause.

Some volunteers sewed clothes for the Dress a Girl Around the World project, led locally by Roseville resident Susan Bushell.

Dresses are sewn out of pillowcases and sent to girls in some 55 countries. The local campaign began with a handful of women sewing in Bushell's living room to 200 volunteers using 60 sewing machines to make 245 dresses during Serve Day. The group also received 550 pairs of donated underwear.

"Everyone is valuable in the process of the dressmaking and the results are that little girls will have a dress of their own ... perhaps her one and only dress that she has ever had," Bushell said. "People continually share with us that even though they might not be able to physically go to a foreign field, they feel this gives them a tangible way of helping protect little girls."

Bayside Church spokesman Mark Miller said Serve Day will likely become an annual event, but in the meantime, the church hopes to see more people finding ways to get involved with ongoing volunteer opportunities.

"This is really just the beginning," Miller said.

Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.