News Story

Five Young Albertan Siblings Lead Community in Caring for Recreation Area

Five young siblings, who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently took on an adult-sized project to co-ordinate a community cleanup of a large, garbage-filled field near their home in Airdrie, Alberta.

Natalia, Evalene, Linden, Preston and Nolan Andrews love to explore the open, undeveloped land north of their home. They build snow caves in the winter and grass forts in the summer. The space is well loved by many others in the community and the various wildlife that pass through.

Older sisters Natalia (12) and Evalene (10) had just finished volunteering to clean up local highways with their local congregation, the Reunion Ward. Five-year-old Preston felt heartbroken that he was too young to participate. However, he had an idea to clean the heavily littered open field behind his home and where he loves to play.

Preston asked his mother, Elise Andrews, if they could clean it up. Because it was city-owned property, Elise checked with the city first. When the city gave permission and offered additional assistance, Preston quickly convinced his older siblings to get to work.

“We call [the field] ‘Garbage Hill’ because there are concrete slabs, broken garbage, plastic bags and other stuff everywhere. Every time we go over there, we asked why someone doesn’t clean it up. Finally, we said, ‘Why don’t we clean it up?’” said Evalene.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are taught that “all humankind are stewards over the earth and should gratefully use what God has given, avoid wasting life and resources, and use the bounty of the earth to care for the poor and the needy” (“Environmental Stewardship and Conservation,” Canada Newsroom). For these five siblings, this meant taking care of the space many use daily.

Natalia said, “We’re just thinking about the animals, because we’ve seen lots of ducks and other birds back there. There have been coyotes, and we’ve seen a moose one time. All the garbage back there is really gross. [The animals] are looking for food and probably eating some of that [garbage].”

Alex Andrews, the children’s father, expressed his gratitude for their conscientious service. He said, “As a parent, it absolutely warms your heart when you see your children really care about something that can make a difference in this world. Even though it was a [a lot] of garbage and [the field] will take effort to maintain, it meant a lot to our kids, as they love that area. Seeing their excitement and energy to go and beautify our community gave me a glimpse of what our Father in Heaven must feel when He sees us take care of this beautiful world He has blessed us with.”

Elise added, “I often have the lyrics to the [hymn] ‘Have I done Any Good in the World Today?’ come into my mind as I am busily cleaning our home around our five children, who are doing online learning. In this season of life, our ‘good in the world’ often only reaches the walls of our home. It can be difficult to extend our reach, especially during a pandemic, but when Preston promoted a community cleanup, our children rose to the occasion and tried to make a difference.”

Clearly, the Andrews children are taking to heart that “the earth and all life upon it are much more than items to be consumed or conserved. God intends His creations to be aesthetically pleasing to enliven the mind and spirit” (“Environmental Stewardship and Conservation,” Canada Newsroom).

Contributed by
Nancy Clayden, Calgary Alberta North Stake communication director
Elise Andrews, Calgary Alberta North Stake media specialist

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