Hundreds of volunteers help out on 'Serve Day'

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- You've heard the saying, "Home is where the heart is." Well, for several Valley communities, heart found their homes this weekend. The big hearts of some 500 people helped make a community outreach cleanup a big success.

"You can really, really make a difference," explained Matt Cohrs. "As you drive down the street you see the difference."

Cohrs is with the Neighborhood Partnership Office. He said on the last Saturday of every February they team up with faith-based groups and the city of Glendale for what's called "Serve Day." It's in its sixth year.

Volunteers worked at four locations: the Casa Campana Retirement Community near 67th Avenue and Bell Road, the Granada Estates neighborhood near 67th Avenue and Greeway Road, the Blue SkyMoblie Home Park and the area of 53rd Avenue and Ocotillo Road, known as the Heart of Glendale neighborhood. Many of these communities have high crime rates or high poverty.

"I'm a product of this environment," John Torres said.

He grew up in the Heart of Glendale neighborhood and is now a pastor at a local church.

"I grew up here, so I know the need," he said. "Putting our resources together will help and impact our community here."

Hundreds of volunteers from Community Church of Joy in Glendale painted homes, cleared trash and did yard work. Pastor Walt Kallestad was thrilled to see such support.

"We're putting our fate into action. We believe we can impact hearts and minds if we can improve other aspects of their life," he explained.

All that hard work wasn't just a big payoff for the community, but for the soul as well, as volunteer Victoria Eblin described, "Just a love for community. Just wanting to help make this place a better place."

Even youngsters, like Spencer Busler, were excited to volunteer.

"It definitely feels awesome," he said while shoveling dirt. "It's a great opportunity to get some exercise and to help peole who maybe don't have that much money or who are disabled."

For residents who also helped in the cleanup the end result was even more special.

"It takes my breath away," Torres said. "I thank God, I'm overwhelmed, I'm in awe."