Neighbors on one lucky street in Champlin received an unusual letter in their mailboxes this spring: Create a wish list of outdoor home projects you want finished, it said, and we’ll fix it for free.
The wishes rolled in. Lug out a hot tub. Stain a deck. Trim trees. Plant flowers. Paint the whole house.
On Sunday, about 200 volunteers will swarm the 1300 block of Xylon Avenue N. and tackle the projects big and small.
“At first, we were met with some skepticism,” said Jeremiah Stark, a pastor at Riverway Church in Champlin, which sponsors the “Block of Blessing” on Sunday. “A lot of people asked, ‘What’s the catch?’ But when we tell them there is no cost, they’re kind of blown away.”
Block of Blessing is part of the community service work of the nondenominational church, which launched the project the same year it put down roots in Champlin four years ago.
The goal was to give back to the community, said Stark, adding: “We tell people, We don’t expect you to go to our church.”
About 75 volunteers lent a hand the first year, he said, and about 175 last year. This year, the church is working with the public schools in the suburb, so even more are expected to show up with tool boxes, shovels, paintbrushes and more.
While not exactly an extreme makeover, the block chosen gets some serious tree trimming, garden weeding, flower planting and painting, Stark said. And each year, one house gets a complete paint job.
The task comes with challenges. Last year the 20 gallons of house paint ordered for a complete paint job was the wrong color. The crew had to buy 20 more. This year volunteers are wondering how — or if — they can extract a hot tub.
“We’re trying to figure out where we could recycle it,” Stark said. “Should we get a bunch of guys with saws and cut it to pieces?”
The volunteers include folks with a variety of skills, including grilling. The work crew and all neighbors are invited to an onsite cookout. Said Stark: “It’s a great way for the volunteers to mingle with homeowners.’’