By Sarah Whitman
Senior Staff Writer
Lutz Elementary School and the old train depot will get a fresh look when Lutz paints the town April 24.
For 11 years, the Sheriff’s Office has sponsored Lutz Paint the Town to coincide with Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful and the Great American Clean-up.
This year the Sheriff’s office didn’t have the funds or resources to manage the event, so Idlewild Baptist Church stepped up to help. The church has 40 volunteers scheduled to participate, most from its singles ministry.
“We didn’t want the event to die so we picked up the tab to keep the community active,” said Jonathan Boyette, local and national missions coordinator for Idlewild. “We invite everyone to come help out.”
The event begins at 8 a.m. at the Old School House on 41 with a quick orientation meeting. Anyone interested in volunteering can grab a brush and join in. The event will last until 1 p.m. Hot Rod’s BBQ & Grill will supply lunch for the volunteers.
Last year, volunteers painted Hot Rod’s restaurant, 18430 Livingston Ave., as part of the project. Owner Rod Smith was overwhelmed with gratitude. Having been diagnosed with cancer, he was unable to do the repairs himself. Having the community step up to help gave him hope in a difficult time.
“It was just wonderful,” Smith said. “Making the food this year is my way of reciprocating. As of now I am doing good and beating the disease.”
Prior to 2009, Paint the Town projects were usually private homes of the elderly.
This year, volunteers will paint picnic tables, fences and doors at Lutz Elementary. The second project site is the Lutz train depot at Lutz Lake Fern and US 41, where in addition to painting, cross signals will be repaired. The train depot is a replica of the original built at the turn of the 20th Century.
“The train depot is something the community worked on for many years to build,” said Eleanor Cecil, member of the Lutz Civic Association. “It is very significant to the community. Having it renovated is a very good thing.”
The Paint the Town project sites were chosen by community members and Idlewild volunteers.
“We’ve always been involved with this event,” Boyette said. “This year we went around to local establishments to see where there was a need.”
Both sites are supplying the paint themselves. Idlewild is supplying additional materials.
Boyette said giving back is important.
“At Idlewild, we are always looking for opportunities to serve,” he said. It’s important to feel a sense of ownership and take personal responsibility for one’s community.”
Boyette isn’t sure what the future holds for Paint the Town but said Idlewild will be there to head it up for as long as is needed.
“It’s an important tradition,” Boyette said. “We definitely want to keep it alive.”