As 12-year-old Zach Karbach of South Jeffco pulled weeds and trimmed the dead flowers in front of the Peak Community and Wellness Center on Sept. 27, he had that look.
The look of a kid pulling weeds on a beautiful Sunday morning when it's likely he'd rather be enjoying the time away from school. But when asked if he'd rather be pulling the weeds than sitting in a church pew, the answer was almost instant.
"This," he said, pointing at the weeds.
That's not because he doesn't like going to WaterStone Community Church every Sunday with his family. It's because he likes helping out in the community.
"It's fun because we get to help,” Zach said. “It feels good."
Zach was one of more than 700 people to take part in the church's third annual Day 2 Serve, when the church is closed for the day and the congregation splits into teams, fanning out across the area and helping out however they can.
"We're really trying to work together and do what we can to help people in need," said Danielle Reeves, the church's mobilization pastor and the person in charge of the operation.
Reeves said the idea came from longtime church member and former church staffer Theresa Wisda, who wanted to find a way to live out the church's mission of focusing on people outside the church who may need help. Some teams went to downtown Denver and pitched in with the Denver Street School, an organization that helps at-risk youths. Others helped remove graffiti from a set of walls near Wadsworth Boulevard and West Colfax Avenue. One group helped a single mom make over her bedroom.
This year the project was a bit different in that the church invited the community to get involved. Reeves said the church partnered with the Jefferson County Human Resources Department to find people in need.
Reeves said the day of service included about 525 people last year. This year, the number jumped to more than 700. That's the majority of the large, 1,100-member congregation.
"Times are tough right now," she said. "With the economy being what it is, I think people hear what's going on and about those that are struggling. Some of them are struggling themselves. But the idea is: Let's get together and help each other out."
That's the way Mike Karbach took the message. He was one of more than a dozen who pitched in to help the budget-strapped Foothills Park & Recreation District clean up the front of the Peak Community and Wellness Center.
"As Christians, we're called to be out of the building and into the community," Karbach said. "It shows we can help and give back and do what we can." He said he liked the hands-on nature of the work he and his family were doing Sept. 27, and liked that it was helping "in a very real way."
Reeves said it's not hard to sell the idea in a church full of people like the Karbach family.
"We've really tried to instill in our congregation that this is all way bigger than us," Reeves said. "We don't exist for ourselves or the church. We exist as part of God's kingdom. There are a lot of things we can't do anything about, but here we are sitting in a community that has needs, and there are things we can do right now."
Scott and Cathy Manley were a bit parched after weeding in the blinding sun the morning of Sept. 27, but they were in good spirits.
"With Foothills facing some budgetary problems, hopefully this will help them out a bit," Scott Manley said. He added that he and his wife enjoy helping out in the community while interacting with others.
"If you had to do this by yourself in your backyard, it probably wouldn't be any fun," he said. "But here, it's a great time. We enjoy all the fellowship, and we enjoy helping."
Manley said they didn't really care who benefited from the service, so long as someone did.
"Whether they belong to our church or not, we just enjoy getting out and doing something," he said. "Whether they belong to our church or not is irrelevant."