Nina Cannon didn't mind the 30-degree temperatures or the snow that fell overnight April 6 and covered much of the lawn at Northland High School on April 7.

Nor, apparently, did about 1,000 other volunteers from Vineyard Columbus who gave up part of their Saturday to rake leaves, spread mulch, pick up litter, sanitize lockers, paint, and complete other improvement projects at 16 Columbus city schools.

"I don't feel it," Cannon said of the cold as she raked leaves from underneath bushes and trees at the Northland campus.

This is the second year the church has worked with the school district on the project.

Last year, about 400 church members worked in eight schools, and church officials would like to see the program expanded next year with other volunteer and faith-based groups to cover all city schools.

"I want to give back. Columbus is a growing community and I want the kids at Northland High School to know we are supporting them," said Cannon, 53.

"It just feels good to do something to help others," said another volunteer, Becca Hurless, 26, who also was outside cleaning up in the cold at Northland.

Volunteers chose April 7 for the work because students had been on spring break.

When students at the 16 schools returned Monday, April 9, they found freshened buildings meant to set the tone for a strong finish to the school year, said Kwesi Kambon, the church's pastor of community relations who held a similar job with the district before he retired.

"This will help children and encourage teachers that there's a community behind them and cheering them on, that even if it is the last couple of months, to not take summer vacation too soon and to finish strong," Kambon said.

The church coordinated with principals and staff members to figure out what projects each school needed.

Northland Principal Jason Johnson said turning out a large group of volunteers who provided hundreds of hours of time is important because it's challenging for the Northland staff to find the time to do all the work that volunteers were doing last week.

The church, which has about 8,000 people who attend services weekly, already has other connections to the school district. Church members mentor students and provide lunch and supplies for teachers, among other things.

Other church programs serve immigrants and the homeless and provide medical care for the poor.

If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today he would say, "If you want to honor me, serve," Kambon said. "To find a way to serve those who are in need - that's the spirit of what we're doing."

mawilliams@dispatch.com

@BizMarkWilliams