Why I Rake

Rake Day is a fall tradition for my family. As a newlywed couple, my husband and I started spending a day each year helping those who needed assistance with raking their yards. As our family grew, we continued setting aside a fall Saturday to join our church family helping those in our church and our community who needed help with their leaves. Sometimes we joined our small group, sometimes we joined a few others, and sometimes we raked as just our family.

Last year, on a crisp fall day with a gentle breeze, I grabbed my rake and work gloves and headed to church. I was meeting my grown daughter to spend a morning together raking someone’s yard. It had been a while since we had raked side by side. We didn’t have plans to meet anyone else specifically, but we were confident we would find a group to join. As we sipped our coffee, we signed in and then gradually formed a group of folks to rake with. It was a fun mixture of people. We had a young family with 2- and 5-year-old boys who had been a part of our small group in the past.  We also had a newly engaged couple, an empty nester couple who were in my current small group, and three singles, one of whom was new to Faith and experiencing her first Rake Day.

 As always, since we didn’t know everyone well, it was a quiet group as we gathered at our assigned home, but having little ones always helps break the tension. And what a blessing it was to show up on the doorstep of a senior church member who I have known for a long time! Due to COVID we hadn’t seen her at church for a long time, and she was so appreciative of our help. As we started to rake, a few conversations began, and we started to get to know each other.

Next, we headed to the home of a couple who had planned to volunteer at the church handing out maps for the rakers but due to an illness were unable to participate. They weren’t home when we arrived, but we quickly went to work and had just finished as they drove up. They were surprised and blessed that the work had been done without their having asked for help.

We still had time left, so we walked across the street and asked the neighbor if they would like us to rake their yard. Turned out they were new to Fort Collins, and they were surprised we would offer to rake for free. The dog lovers on our crew – which were most of us – loved meeting their dogs which came out to join us. By now the conversations were flowing. We heard the full story of the engaged couple’s proposal weekend, and the young father and the empty nester wife discovered she had been one of his Sunday School teachers when he was a kid. It was great fun to hear them reminiscing. The 5-year-old was directing the crew, making sure we were raking the right areas and loading our bags in his dad’s truck.

No longer were we a quiet crew. There were lots of conversations flowing and laughter ringing in the fall breeze. This attracted another neighbor on the corner. They were deep in the middle of a home remodel, and she was wondering how much we would charge to come rake her yard. Of course, we happily crossed the street and announced that there was no charge. We’d be delighted to rake their yard for free. In our work group, chatting and teasing and laughing continued. We had our system down as to who raked and who filled the bags and who hauled them to the truck. The homeowner shared with us their remodel plans and was thrilled not to have to squeeze some raking into their busy fall weekends. In the end, she sent a check for the church with us in gratitude for our help.

When we arrived back at the church, we joined the rest of the Rake Day crew and began unloading our bags of leaves into the dumpster. The atmosphere was one of joy as everyone shared their stories and compared how many bags of leaves they had collected. The fellowship over lunch was a sweet way to end the morning and another Rake Day.

I left for home with a big smile and a full heart. I had a fun morning connecting with my daughter which is always a gift. I also met some new sisters and brothers in Christ and looked forward to seeing them on Sunday mornings. I reconnected with past friends and shared some fun memories with my small group friends. I was blessed by spending time with “littles” who always bring joy in their fresh perspective on life. I celebrated with a young couple as they began to plan their wedding and their future life together. Best of all, I served my church family and my community by serving in Jesus’ name. Rake Day may be planned to lift the burdens s of others, but I always come home blessed myself.

And that’s why I rake! I hope you’ll join me at the next Rake Day.

Nancy has been attending Faith since 1989 and is currently serving as Worship Assistant. She loves serving others with her Faith family and over the years has been involved in choir, orchestra, and various women’s ministries. Originally from Iowa, Nancy enjoys gardening, cooking, reading, and traveling.