lifetime Products volunteers help refurbish USU Botanical Gardens

Saturday , May 05, 2012 - 7:15 PM

Ruth Malan

KAYSVILLE -- Florescent green shirts dotted the landscape Saturday at the Utah State University Botanical Gardens as more than 1,000 volunteers from Lifetime Products planted, landscaped, cleaned ponds and did other maintenance tasks.

Lifetime employee Chris Jellerson has volunteered for all seven of the years the company has done community projects in Weber and Davis county parks, cemeteries and other public places.

"Lifetime is big on charity," said the 20-year employee as she clipped a straw mat around plants along Sego Lily Drive. "This is not hard to do, there are so many of us."

According to Denise Wandling, vice president of human resources for Lifetime, the first project the company did came about because an employee said the park he visits with his family needed work done. So Steed Park in Clearfield got spruced up by employees.

"About 800 employees showed up. We filled two dumpsters in 15 minutes. All the neighbors started to beautify their back yards when they saw the park," Wandling said.

She added the workers were grateful for the sunshine this year, recalling a year it rained on them.

"What is so exciting about this place (the botanical center) is that they do so much for the community with their food garden. The food is given to the food bank," said Wandling. "This is a wonderful location. There is so much to be done it is exciting."

Decked out in their bright shirts, the employees were placed in areas around the large botanical center where they did jobs that might otherwise take a year to be done. Some took kayaks out on the ponds to use fish nets to clear out debris. Others planted pumpkins and corn while others moved rocks and put down straw ground cover to keep out weeds. They removed debris and projects to improve the center's grounds.

"They are planting corn today. Service like this is good for the community and also good for our people. This is part of what we do," said Richard Hendrickson, president of Lifetime Products. He and the company owner Barry Mower were out planting corn along with their employees.

"The key to being successful is all of the hours beforehand," said Hendrickson. "We have a serious game plan. It is really inspiring to be part of this and see what happens. We are having fun."

Several days before the event organizers were at the botanical center to plan the projects.

Jellerson said other years she has taken her family to see the work the volunteers have completed. "It is a lot of work but good. It makes you feel better when it is done."

Bob Fulmer worked placing rock s where runoff water might run. He was enjoying the work.

"I feel good because it is for the community," Fulmer said.

"Eighty to ninety percent of our permanent full-time employees are here. Our people are service oriented," said Hendrickson.

The volunteers performed about 3,000 man hours of service in just three hours. They were treated to a picnic in a nearby bowery with Aggie Ice Cream for dessert.

Botanical center director David Anderson was very pleased with the help. He said the huge December windstorm left behind a lot of garbage and debris that needed to be cleaned from the ponds and trees.

"They were fantastic," Anderson said of the volunteers. "We were the fortunate recipients this year. The work was labor intensive. We have a very small staff so we rely on volunteers."

There was painting to be done so volunteers were at the center earlier in the week to paint. It was too cold to paint on Saturday so volunteers will come back to finish it when the weather is warmer.

"They will come back to finish painting fencing, gates, sign posts and doors, some of the hard things to get done. They cleaned up by the freeway so we can get in to mow it," Anderson said.

"Lifetime is more than just products. We're people who make a difference in everything we do - both inside and outside of our factory walls," said Hendrickson in a news release. "We're proud to be a worldwide company but it is important to us to always give back to the community here at home where we operate and are headquartered.

"Our annual community service project is a monumental way for us to make a difference in our local area. It's truly inspiring and heart-warming to watch a thousand people working together to improve where they live and work."

Hendrickson said every year the workers say, "This is the best project we have done."

Lifetime Products makes tables and chairs, storage sheds, playground equipment, lawn and garden equipment and sporting goods in plants at Freeport Center in Clearfield.

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