News Release

Helping Hands in Cockatoo Creek


On Saturday 27 October, approximately 60 men, women, youth, children and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donned Helping Hands yellow vests and set to work, planting over 130 native trees and shrubs, and weeding around the base of established plants, with guidance from Ruth South of The Friends of Cockatoo Creek.

A Cockatoo resident since 1976, Ruth became involved with The Friends of Cockatoo Creek 5 years ago to assist leader, Coral Hunter. Ruth explained how grants from organisations such as Melbourne Water aid conservation and rehabilitation of the land which borders part of the Cardinia Shire network of cycle and walking tracks. Apart from weeding and tree plantings, Ruth and Coral participate in water monitoring, flora surveys, litter removal, and educational talks and workshops.

“You’ve no idea how much we appreciate how many people have turned up to help today. It’s amazing!” said Ruth about the members of the church group. “Coral and I do a couple of hours work and it doesn’t look like we’ve achieved anything. But a big group makes a lot of difference.”

With additional assistance from Isabel Ebsworth of Cardinia Catchment Landcare Group, and Matt Carlyon of Southern Ranges Environment Alliance, members of the church group also learnt how to create microclimates using plastic tree guards. Isabel, who has been working in landcare for the past 4 years with the Community Weed Alliance of the Dandenongs, explained, “The worst weeds in the area tend to be creeping buttercup, wandering trad, ivy, blackberry, and sycamore maple. Another problem is St Peter’s wort.”

Isabel noted that she usually sees older people and children helping out with this kind of work; however, she was pleasantly surprised to see a good number of youth at the Helping Hands activity.

Amongst the copious weed pulling, there were plenty of positive comments from participants. Eleven-year-old Emily Jewitt stated, “Helping nature and working with people is really great!” Her friend, ten-year-old Kyiah Ferguson, added, “Yes, it’s good to understand that nature isn’t disgusting and that not everything’s about staying indoors and playing on technology!”

Church music leader Sarah Imms remarked, “It’s good to leave the countryside in a better condition than you found it. It’s good to make people smile.”

Aaron Skipwith said, “As members of the Church, we see the importance of working in our families and in the community, and we find joy in service to others.”

Leader of the church in the Gippsland area, President Graham Smith commented, “There are beautiful stretches of land here that we never see because we drive straight past them. It’s great to be able to enhance a lovely spot of land and do good in the community.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Helping Hands program was established in 1998. Since then hundreds of thousands of volunteers have donated millions of hours of service to their communities in nearly every corner of the world.

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