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Loving California’s Central Valley

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Paint fumes, wood chips, and grass clippings emitted a pleasing fragrance to the Lord during a recent community-wide initiative to serve the central valley of California.


Love Ripon kicks off with a rally at the community center.

Nearly 400 volunteers flooded the streets of Ripon on a beautiful April morning. They participated in 21 different service projects around the community.

Dusty Hoekstra, director of ministries and outreach at Almond Valley Christian Reformed Church, helped to organize the “Love Ripon” campaign. Hoekstra said, “We wanted family-friendly projects where you could just hang out with the family.”

Seven churches, including three Christian Reformed congregations, provided leadership and organization. Weeks before the event, Ripon was covered with signs and posters encouraging people to sign up at loveripon.com. There were opportunities for all ages: baking cookies at local churches to deliver to veterans, emergency personnel, and city workers; painting the local skate park; pulling cables to move a computer lab at a local school; spreading woodchips along the bike trail and parks around town, and many more.

The event kicked off with prayer at the community center, and then volunteers spread out to bless the community. One family who had just moved to Ripon saw this as an opportunity to get involved and meet people. Some businesses encouraged employees to participate as an opportunity to fulfill service requirements. Many city workers were blessed by the outpouring of love for their community.

Hundreds gathered at a culminating community-wide worship service held the evening following “Love Ripon”to celebrate all that God had done.

Hoekstra said, “It was great to see the unity in the body, so many backgrounds and stories coming together to bless our city.”

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