TEMECULA, Calif. (NNS) -- A group of 45 chief petty officer (CPO) selectees assigned to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) temporarily put aside their charge books to pick up shovels and paint brushes Sept. 6 in order to help clean up and make improvements to the Ronald Reagan Sports Park in Temecula.
The CPO selectees were joined by more than 30 members of the Ronald Reagan CPO mess, who have maintained a special relationship with both the city and the park through similar volunteer projects over the past three years.
The day's projects included planting several trees at different locations around the park, permanently securing bleachers to concrete slabs around the park's little league baseball diamonds, and painting equipment storage sheds.
According to Dave Thurman, a landscape inspector with the city's community services department who helped coordinate the day's list of projects, several groups volunteer at the park throughout the year. However, Thurman said, he always looks forward to the arrival of Ronald Reagan Sailors.
"What the Sailors were able to do in a few short hours would have taken many days for park personnel to accomplish," said Thurman.
Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate Handling (AW/SW) Saul Mendo, who has been volunteering at the park for the past two years, said that volunteering helps the residents of the city that see Sailors care about the community.
Mendo, who coordinated this year's event for Ronald Reagan personnel, said he hopes this year's group of CPO selectees will understand the significance of the project.
"By up going up there, it gives the new chief petty officer selects the sense of community," said Mendo. "It is important that they know that as a chief it's not just about helping your Sailors, it's about helping other people."
Ronald Reagan's group of CPO selectees said they were extremely proud to represent the ship as well as the Navy during the project.
"We are all honored to go up there and show our pride to the community," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW/SW) Peter Hilliard, who will be advanced to the rank of chief petty officer later this month. "The public only knows what the Sailors show them, and this shows them that we care."
The Ronald Reagan CPO Mess adopted the park in 2005, shortly after it was officially named for the 40th president. Since that time, mess members have been taking each year's group of chief selectees to the park to assist in painting, tree trimming and general cleanup duties. The CPO mess also sponsors other cleanup and renovation projects at the park throughout the year.
However, the cleanup project was not the only event attended by Ronald Reagan Sailors Sept. 6.
Earlier in the day, Ronald Reagan personnel also assisted in the ceremonial raising of the first flag atop the park's new flag pole located near the baseball fields. The new lighted flag pole will, made possible entirely through donations, allow the American fly to fly proudly above the park both day and night.
Like the City of Temecula's motto, "Old traditions, new opportunities," Ronald Reagan Sailors continue to donate their time and labor to participate in community relations project to help the residents of Southern California.
Ronald Reagan is currently undergoing a planned incremental availability in her homeport of San Diego following a three-month surge deployment in support of operations in the Western Pacific.
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.