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Judy Kenyon, of St. Paul Park, pulls weeds from landscaping at an entrance to Heritage Park on Laurel Avenue with a group of volunteers from Discovery Community Church on Portland Avenue in St. Paul Park.

Helping hands: Church volunteers clean up parks in St. Paul Park

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It wasn't just a desire to do good deeds that had more than a dozen members of St. Paul Park's Discovery Community Church on their hands and knees early last Saturday, yanking weeds and shoveling fresh wood chips at a pair of city parks.

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"It's part of our own spiritual growth," said Rob Brock, of South St. Paul, a worship pastor at the non-denominational Christian church on Portland Avenue. "Faith is active."

The work was part of an annual day of volunteerism put on by the seven-year-old church that was formed in 2004 by the merger of a pair of congregations. In past years, that meant mowing lawns for residents in need. On Saturday, the group tackled some yard work for the city of St. Paul Park, improving landscaping at Heritage and Lions Levee parks. The church also offered free oil changes and a free garage sale as part of the event.

"We wanted to make a contribution to the city that we worship in, said Rod Hale, a church member and former Cottage Grove City Council member who has helped organize "The Great Day of Service" at Discovery since it began five years ago.

Typically held in the spring, the church was forced to postpone this year's event until fall. That left church members looking for a new way to help. Lee Flandrich, St. Paul Park's public works director, was more than willing to help when Hale called looking for potential projects.

With city budgets pinched and a small St. Paul Park Public Works staff that looks after city water, sewer, streets, parks, buildings and equipment, Flandrich said the opportunity for a little extra help was too good for the city to pass up.

"It's a small thing, but aesthetically speaking, it's huge," Flandrich said of the park improvements Discovery members completed Saturday. "People want to go to a nice park that looks nice. St. Paul Park likes their parks."

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