News Release

Massive Helping Hands Effort Brightens and Beautifies Hamilton City

It was clear on Saturday 27 February that organisers who had planned and worked for months to beautify and improve Hamilton city, were rewarded for their efforts.

Hundreds of volunteers turned out early in the day and spent hours improving parks, neighbourhoods, and homes—rendering them better places to live because of their unselfish efforts at lending a hand.

In an extensive joint effort, Hamilton City Council, the Catholic Church, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) banded together to beautify and improve the surroundings of Hamilton city.

The partnership was named Hamilton Helping Hands. The Helping Hands notion brings together members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their neighbours to provide community service by partnering with government, non-profit organisations, and other churches to support and improve the communities where they live.

The overall effort was spearheaded by Latter-day Saint, Vicki Lee Wihongi, along with Parks and Open Spaces Manager, Sally Sheedy, and Unit Manager, Deanne McManus-Emery.

Projects were located at A.J. Seeley Park, New Memorial Park, Taitua Arboretum, Porritt Stadium, Chartwell Park, Enderley Community Centre, Te Rapa Sportsdrome, Celebrating Age Centre, Waikato Migrant Centre, Tuhikarema Latter-day Saint Chapel, Camp Tuhikarema, and St Vincent de Paul retirement village.

Working together, volunteers tackled these 12 significant community projects throughout the morning hours.

Bright yellow Helping Hands vests and tee shirts and bright orange vests could be seen everywhere, being worn by workers who laboured side-by-side on each project. Men and women, teenagers and youngsters—even small children—were helping to get the job done.

Perhaps most impressive, were the smiles seen on so many faces and the goodwill extended so clearly as participants banded together to cause good things to happen.

Latter-day Saints have been participating in Mormon Helping Hands projects on an annual basis for several years. Many volunteers expressed their pleasure at the opportunity to give community service and said they look forward to it every year. 

Bishop Nusi Kailea, who worked alongside several members of his congregation at the Te Rapa Sportsdrome, said, “Everyone is excited, wanting to be part of it. It’s a good family and kids’ day.”

Sixteen-year-old Tylan Robinson said, “We do this every year and it’s actually pretty fun.”

A city co-chair, Sandy MacDonald, said, “Service is doing something for others. It benefits them and it gives you a nice buzz, seeing the benefits of what you do, enhancing others.”

The range of projects was broad as groups pulled weeds, mulched limbs, collected litter, cleaned windows, planted vegetation, vacuumed and cleaned carpets, washed walls, removed graffiti, tidied-up playgrounds, laid pavers, raked up leaves and debris, discarded rubbish,tended gardens, washed cars, and generally cleaned-up each project area.

Even a blood drive found great success through the humanitarian kindness of many willing donors. Senior citizens were also blessed, as their homes were beautified, their cars were washed, and they were entertained and fed.

At Chartwell Park the volunteers cleared out brush and debris from the gully and spread mulch beside the pathway.

Vince Murphy, of City Parks said, “It’s very important to beautify the city, keep the wildlife and birds happy. Without the massive group of volunteers we have today, the city wouldn’t be able to complete these projects for some time.”

A first-time blood donor at the Tuhikaramea Chapel said, “It feels good knowing that I’m helping to save someone’s life.”

The blood of the sixty-eight donors will benefit three times as many recipients, the project coordinator, Suzanne Miller reported.

Sister Anne Marie, a resident at the St Vincent de Paul retirement village said, “We think it’s wonderful. They’re a Godsend. They know what they’re doing, weeding and pruning and getting rid of rubbish. They are such responsible people and they are all smiling and happy!”

Latter-day Saint, Jean MacBeachen, said, “If you’re feeling depressed, lift yourself and go do something for somebody else.”

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