More than 500 local volunteers chalked up 1,441 hours of cleanup time during the recent Mormon Helping Hands Day.

Six East County locations targeted by the volunteers were cleaned, beautified or fixed -- in some instances, all at the same time.

Annette Beckstrand, public affairs representative for the LDS Antioch stake, said this was the third year for the Helping Hands event, which is held in California and Hawaii.

"The members have an enjoyable time coming out to work in their communities," Beckstrand said. "They come as families, bringing their little children, teenagers and grandparents to share in this opportunity to show appreciation to their community and neighbors for the blessing of being a part of that community.

"I visited a few of the sites and was delighted to see teens I knew who had a prom to attend later that day. Still, they were there for the morning doing what they could to give a little back with the time they had."

The projects done on a recent April weekend included general repairs and setup of new pen-structures at the county fairgrounds in Antioch; sanding, painting and landscape work at Meadow Creek Park and Williamson Ranch Park in Antioch;, trash cleanup, fish habitat restoration and planting at Oakley's Marsh Creek at Cypress Road; planting trees, cleaning trails and spreading mulch at Sand Creek Road and O'Hara Avenue in Brentwood; collecting trash and salmon ladder cleaning along Marsh Creek at Homecoming Park in Brentwood; and presenting an emergency preparedness fair co-hosted by the Red Cross and Pittsburg LDS congregation.

Randi Moser and family were part of the cleanup at Marsh Creek in Brentwood.

"I always feel good giving service. When you give your time, those feelings last and good hard work is good for the soul, especially when you're with others.

"It's something you can't teach kids unless they give service right along with you."

The Brentwood resident likes the Helping Hands event, saying it is good for the community and gives an opportunity for others to get involved.

"We actually had people find our event online and just show up and help. It was great."

Among the many adults, children are just as involved.

"It is all about families and teaching our children to give service and helping beautify our community," Moser said.

Antioch's Lara Preece and her family helped with the Williamson Ranch Park project.

"I especially love watching our children and youth gain a connection to their community through these service projects. Mine still crane their necks to see their handiwork every time we drive by the park on Lone Tree.

"Learning to work hard, unified in purpose, with a cheerful heart, and for no other reason than to be a contributing member of their neighborhood is so good for them. They learn what it takes to maintain an environment they want to live in and that we all have to do our part."

Beckstrand explained that the LDS members are divided into congregations, or wards, by geographic area. "Team leaders were appointed from each building to work in their congregations to identify a project in their community or school that would benefit their local community. The benefactor was contacted and the scope of work identified and broken down in preparation for the actual work day."

For more information on Helping Hands, call 925-437-4963 or email Annette.Beckstrand@comcast.net.

Contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net.