INDIAN WELLS, Calif.- - Over 9,000 of athletes and spectators are in the Coachella Valley this weekend for the first-ever Ironman triathlon in La Quinta and Indian Wells.
Traffic and road closures will cause some headaches. With that in mind, Southwest Church in Indian Wells is taking the unusual step of closing for services on Sunday, during the Christmas season and turning this event into a way to give back to the community.
"Southwest has had a dream for a couple of years now that we would adjust our weekend services and go out serve our community in practical ways and we've been looking for the opportune time to do that," said Shawna Luzar, pastor of outreach for the church.
The church is located right on the corner of Fred Waring and Washington, a major thoroughfare for residents.
Their 8,000 person parish faced a logistical hurdle this weekend
"And we mobilized our church and we said 'You know what instead of having services at our church let's go out into the community and be the church,'" Luzar said.
1,500 volunteers are expected to feed low-income families and do cleanup projects like painting schools.
"A lot of our local schools just don't have the manpower or the people to come through. So, we've got a whole army of volunteers doing that," Luzar said.
Volunteers will also spend quality time with those in retirements homes who might be lonely.
"We go into retirement homes we go into maybe transitional homes and we just visit people who are a little more isolated and especially during the holidays when people, we think of think of those family scenes with people gathered together, there's many people that don't have that," Luzar said.
excited to reach out into the community
"You've got an army of people that are thrilled and excited to go out and engage and just build more connections, get to know our community better on a more personal basis -- but actually see a tangible result,"
Southwest is looking for volunteers, as this weekend serves as only part one of the church's Christmas celebration. Part two is a Sunday night tree-lighting at the church open to the public and free of charge, after roads are re-opened. There will also be Christmas Eve services, with thousands expected to turn out for mass.
You can reach Southwest Church or (760) 200-2000 or on Facebook.
Noticias en español: Telemundo 15