OAKLAND -- First Covenant Church of Oakland is giving back to the community with its first "serve week," with the aim of giving 1,000 hours of labor back to Oakland with 14 projects that range from feeding the homeless to helping English-language learners.

"We just feel that we want to give back to our city," said associate pastor John Fanous.

The week of events is bringing 300 volunteers, mostly from the church, to projects across the city. It began on Sept. 21 and will go until Saturday.

One project still to be completed is a rehaul of the Police Athletic League camp. Located in the hills near Roberts Park, the Oakland Police Department uses the camp for outreach activities to connect to the youth of the city through. But the camp is also open to groups serving the city's disadvantaged children.

"It's one of the few campgrounds in our area that is highly affordable," Fanous said.

The camp has cabins, volleyball and basketball courts and shower facilities, but they're in poor condition. On Saturday, a team of around 50 volunteers from the church will weed and remove intrusive plants, deep-clean the bathrooms and tend to the cabins.

"We're going to cut away branches and clean all the roofs," Fanous said.

The police camp project is sponsored by the church's middle school group, and Fanous said he hopes it can be an ongoing relationship. Also that afternoon, 100 volunteers will sort food Alameda County Community Food Bank.


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Other completed projects on the list were at Laurel Elementary and Skyline High School, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a building supply thrift store, and the East Oakland Boxing Association.

First Covenant Church was founded in 1887 and moved to its current location, in Redwood Heights, in 1971. The congregation sees around 700 people come each Sunday to the church, which has an evangelical but open message and is notable for its diversity. That's reflected in the wide range of projects, too.

"We just feel we're blessed by God," Fanous said. "We want to be a blessing to our city."

To volunteer go to www.oaklandfirstcovenant.org or call 510-531-5244.