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1,500-plus Christians taking it to the streets
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A small army of more than 1,500 Christian volunteers are expected to hit the streets in Manteca on Sunday to spread everything from The Word to bark at four park playgrounds.

It is part of the second annual “Taking it to the Streets” community outreach that now involves three churches of different denominations - New Hope, Northgate Community, and Crossroads Grace Community.

It starts with a short joint servcie at 9 a.m. After that at about 9:30 a.m., those gathered will break off into roughly 30 project teams and travel to various work sites around Manteca and Modesto. They range from helping the elderly, the handicapped and single moms with handyman type of work in their homes and yards to painting fire hydrants as well as trimming vegetation and pulling weeds along the Tidewater Bike Path.

The goal, as project coordinator Crossroads outreach pastor Jim Todd said, is to serve people as Jesus served.

“It isn’t about trimming a bush,” Todd said. “It is about influencing the universe.”

Just fewer than 900 had pre-registered as of Wednesday. That number is expected to swell by Saturday as it did last year through pre-registration via the website that is at that also has links to the websites of the three churches. You do not have to be a member of the three churches to participate.

Typically, participants will spend 2.5 hours doing such task of sharing The Word with street ministry teams, visiting people in convalescent hospitals, handiwork, landscape work, helping organize non-profit inventories such as at the food bank and even grilling hamburgers to feed the homeless at Library Park.

Many of the volunteers will be wearing light green T-shirts

Perhaps the most visible impact will be along the Tidewater. Last year, the initial “Taking it to the Streets” including volunteers planted 300 trees along the Moffat leg. This year they are going to return to knock down weeds as well as spread bark on the Moffat segment. They also will trim back much of the vegetation such as shrubs and trees on the balance of the 3.4-mile bike path.

As many as 450 people may be assigned to the labor intensive bike path landscaping work.

Todd noted the crews are going to trim them into estate-style trees but rather reduce the growth to make it easier for city crews to maintain.

“It (the Tidewater landscaping) was designed to be natural and not perfectly trimmed,” Todd said.

Todd said he is excited about the possibility of the community outreach growing to involve even more churches next year.

Todd noted the other churches approached Crosswords wanting to help.

“Manteca is really fortunate to have a ministerial community that works together, Todd said.

One of their major community impacts was the creation and funding of HOPE Ministries that now runs three family shelters.

Todd noted the churches find common ground in basic Christian principles and agree to disagree on the finer details.

The one-day outreach is an outgrowth of Crossroads Grace’s monthly 2ndSaturday of each month where various church volunteers do similar work in the community.

Last year, for example, they harvested more than six tons of citrus fruit from residential yards - oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and lemons - and delivered them to various food banks. They concentrated on the fruit above six feet unless the homeowner wanted it all taken off so it wouldn’t be wasted.