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First Presbyterian group puts in thousands of hours, dollars into Mission Expo
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Brian and Clifton Tullar clean swings Saturday at First Presbyterian Church Child Development Center in Gainesville during the fourth Local Mission Expo. First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville collected 16,500 hours of community service and volunteer work this past year. - photo by Erin O. Smith

They’ve done it again. First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville collected 16,500 hours of community service and volunteer work this past year, and they set the same goal this year.

“We met those hours, and set it again,” The Rev. Lee Koontz said.

For every hour worked, he said, about $22.13 in manpower is used, meaning the church’s expo brought over $337,000 worth of work to the community in the past year, to his estimate.

Jack Spencer, one of this year’s volunteers, said one person contributed 900 of those hours.

Church members along with nonmembers pledged their time to the cause and came together Saturday at the fourth annual Local Mission Expo.

From their meeting point, the group of about 175 dispersed out to different areas across Gainesville.

Some groups of children took cookies to local police departments or helped with the Redbud Project, where a group of about 20 others volunteered on the trails at Linwood Nature Preserve.

“(The Redbud Project) ended up being one of the highest (in terms of hours worked) last year,” Koontz said.

Other work included painting a house for the Family Promise foundation. Because the outside of the house hadn’t been painted in so long, its formerly green walls needed two coats of the gray volunteers put on.

Shelley Collins, a Gainesville resident, was part of the team last year as well.

“We did the inside last year,” Collins said.

The inside proved to be much less difficult as there were about four people to each room.

“It only took about two hours (last year),” said Spencer. He also spent last year’s expo putting in his hours and even helping to coordinate the event as a chairman.

Kenny Akins, a local painter, donated his time, the paint needed to coat the house and other materials, Spencer said.

The church’s playground was another spot where volunteers were needed.

“We’re just trying to clean up around here,” Koontz said.

A group scrubbed down the playground with rags and a nontoxic solution which volunteer and church member Susan Hosford was “very diluted.”

The Georgia Mountain Food Bank also came to support the cause, bringing along some bowls for volunteers to paint.

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