After a free hearty breakfast at the Homesteader Cafe, downtown resident Brandon Marshall and his fiancée, Shannon Silvestri, spent a couple of hours spreading mulch in River Market flower beds.
They were among about 125 volunteers from the community at the first River Market Serve Day, an event the new River Market Community Church hopes to do annually in different areas of downtown.
“We really like the area, it looks so nice and the City Market reminds me of the city markets back in Alabama, so it feels like home,” Silvestri said. “And we’re meeting new people today, people from the area.”
Jim Hays, the pastor of the River Market Community Church, has been hosting community events to help build the church, but this is the first that put people to work.
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“We want to help people develop a heart for the city, and one way they can do that is with their hands,” he said.
He spent about two months planning the event and lining up sponsors, including the River Market Community Improvement District, raising about $2,500 for supplies, promotions and to pay for the discounted meals.
The volunteers completed 10 projects, including picking up trash along the banks of the highway, spreading mulch, raking leaves and planting royal blue pansies.
At 3:15 p.m. they gathered in a outdoor courtyard at 500 Delaware for refreshments and information tables from sponsors, including the Homesteader Cafe. The restaurant is just south of the River Market, but the owners still wanted to participate.
“To us, it’s about building a community,” said Jeremy Lane, a co-owner of the cafe.