Gray skies and chilly temperatures Saturday morning didn’t deter people from showing up in force to help the San Luis Obispo community for the second year in a row.
Love SLO, a daylong public service event that organized projects across the city, drew an estimated 1,000 people for the second-annual event, organizers said. Last year, they put that number at 650.
Co-coordinator Stephanie Buresh said she was already looking to the future.
“We will be making it an annual event,” Buresh said as she and fellow co-coordinator Chris Blake oversaw cleanup of Mission Plaza, where a rally kicked off the day of volunteer activities.
Love SLO 2017 covered 38 projects — including blood donation; giving haircuts, manicures and pedicures to the homeless; cleanup at the San Luis Obispo YMCA and graffiti removal.
“We’ve had a lot of coffee with a lot of people,” Buresh said, as she described how she and Blake were able to coordinate with so many different agencies.
Blake and Buresh credited the project’s many cooperating agencies, sponsors and volunteers for its success.
“It’s easy to promote it when you know the good works they’re doing,” Buresh said.
Blake and Buresh both have day jobs in the nonprofit community, but they said that Love SLO was an attempt to model good behavior to their families and fellow San Luis Obispo residents.
“Each person in our community has gifts and talents,” Blake said, adding that the purpose of Love SLO was to provide as many avenues to express those talents as possible.
At C.L. Smith Elementary School, children and adult volunteers alike expressed that talent by cleaning and organizing pre-engraved bricks as professional landscaper Larry Cusick smoothed and cleared space for the bricks to be placed around a planter space.
C.L. Smith Parent-Teacher Association President Heather Diesta supervised the volunteers, which included her husband, Chris, and two children, Karsyn and Ethan.
“What was here before Larry started working was some sad shrubs,” Diesta said.
As people worked to ready the planter space, a pickup nearby was loaded with plants that would be put in once the bricks were laid. Diesta said the plants will be a legacy project of the 2016-17 sixth-grade class, which raised money to purchase them.
Back downtown, Lisa and Jeff Combs were working on yet another Love SLO project: litter patrol.
“It’s been mostly cigarette butts and green feathers,” Lisa Combs said, the feathers likely a remnant of Friday’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. “I kind of expected more barf.”
The couple laughed about some of the discoveries they made, including a sign that read, “Leprechaun kidnapped by Vikings, need ransom money!!” on one side.
The couple said they also volunteered at Love SLO last year, cleaning up eucalyptus tree debris outside of a homeless shelter. They called the work exhausting and said that’s why they opted to pick up trash this year.
Both said they were impressed and excited by the turnout.
“It was nice to see it grow so much,” Lisa Combs said.
Next year, the Combs said they hope to see 1,500 people show up.