April 14. 2013 9:02PM

Hundreds sought for Big Day of Serving in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA - In an effort to transform the Tree Streets neighborhood, more than 500 volunteers are being sought to participate in a massive spring cleanup effort next month.

"Just one person can make a difference, and that is the message we are trying to share," said Pattie Chouinard, one of the organizers for Nashua's Big Day of Serving set for May 4. "There is power in one, and there is great reward when giving back to a community."

Various church groups and youth service organizations will join forces to paint, clean, landscape and beautify several city streets, taking their work into individual homes, Marguerite's Place and the Nashua Rail Trail.

"We have reached out to a lot of youth groups and local churches trying to get local children involved this year. We had almost 500 participants last year, so we are hoping for even more this time around," said Chouinard.

Neighborhoods from Chestnut to Palm streets and from West Hollis to Ledge streets will be targeted, as volunteers work to clean up and repair the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, Nashua's Police Athletic League, Ledge Street School, Los Amigo's and area parks.

The Big Day of Serving is part of Group Mission Trips, a nonprofit organization that provides short-term mission trips to help youth connect to Jesus while serving throughout the country, according to its website.

Its mission is to bring together interdenominational youth groups in the community to improve and serve area neighborhoods, says the website.

"The biggest project this year, which I am so excited about, is the installation of an outdoor classroom at the Ledge Street School," said Chouinard, adding many volunteers will be necessary to make the project a success.

Graffiti and trash will be removed from area parks, basic home repairs will be tackled, landscaping projects will be organized and paint will be applied during the Big Day of Serving, which will kick off with a rally at 8 a.m. on May 4 at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua.

Youth in sixth-grade and older are able to participate. The cost is $40 to volunteer for the day, which includes lunch, a T-shirt, block party and devotional materials, and also helps pay for supplies and project materials as well as staff expenses, according to the website.

"The Big Day is not just a day of service, it's a national movement," says the website. "The goal: one million kids all over the country working together for the same cause. Imagine city after city and block after block - these changes will multiply and change not only local neighborhoods, but entire cities all across America."

Last year, hundreds of people were dispersed throughout the French Hill neighborhood in Nashua pulling weeds, fixing fences and doing whatever they could to spruce up the area as part of the annual Big Day of Serving event in Nashua.

The focus last spring was on the Tolles Street Mission and the Upper Room Compassionate Ministries.

This year's efforts will be highlighting the Nashua Rail Trail, the Ledge Street School and numerous city homes, according to organizers.

"The families are always so appreciative, and it means so much to them that someone cares enough to help make their homes and neighborhoods look better," said Chouinard.

For more information about the Big Day of Serving, call 305-3022 or visit www.thebigdayofserving.com.