SHOW THE LOVE:  First annual Claremore Love Day expected to draw hundreds of volunteers

Love Day organizers met at the senior center last Friday to discuss the details of the large-scale volunteer effort.

Hundreds of community members have signed up to participate in a city-wide day of service this July, and there is room for more.

Love Day, July 13 from 7 a.m. to noon, is expected to be an annual gathering of community members from various churches, nonprofits and clubs across the city the serve those in need through storm clean-up, home repairs and lawn maintenance

“It’s a huge partnership between the city of Claremore, the faith community and other nonprofits,” said event organizer and local pastor John Ray. “We’re really just trying to get as many people engaged as we possibly can.”

Close to 40 service projects in the community need volunteers.

“We tried to focus on helping the elderly, widowed or flood victims,” project manager Layla Freeman said.

“This is an opportunity for the city to come together to serve the city,” Ray said. “That’s the reason we are calling it Love Day.”

Ray said city employees have been instrumental in getting this event off the ground and highlighting the people and places in need of help.

Ray credited City Manager Jim Thomas with the idea for the service day, which came into being during a monthly meeting with local pastors in April.

The plan at that time was to serve families with code enforcement issues and clean up city parks.

“Then we experienced all the heavy rain storms and everything that happened in the weather the last several months,” Ray said. “It exposed and exacerbated the problems even more, and it gave us the opportunity to rally behind the idea of coming together to serve the city.”

In a letter to the Claremore Ministerial Alliance, Thomas wrote, “The mission is showing extra compassion and assistance to individuals who may not be physically capable of doing it themselves.”

Organizers consulted with Church on the Move about how to make community-wide service projects come together effectively.

“The organizational element has really grown organically out of everybody contributing and coming together to want to see this happen,” Ray said.

“We are hoping this becomes an annual event and a huge community service project day,” Ray said.

As of Thursday, around 400 people have committed to serve from several churches within the community.

“We’re two weeks out and we really just got started, so I am hoping to see that at least double,” Ray said.

In order to volunteer, organize or join a group at your home church or contact Lisa Wilson, assistant to the city manager, at 918-341-1325 ext. 112 or lwilson@claremorecity.com.

Before teams head to volunteer locations, everyone will meet at the First Baptist Gym at Fifth Street and Weenonah Avenue. Parking is available at First Baptist Church with a shuttle running to the meeting location. Lunch will be provided for volunteers.

“With you and your church’s involvement, the impact could be beyond what we can imagine,” Thomas said.

“This is a day to impact our community in an incredible way,” Freeman said. “Spending four hours out serving people that desperately need help will be such a fulfillment for our community.”