Most years, Pastor Jamey Huselton and some members of Cornerstone Church of God travel far and wide to help people in need through the church’s mission trips.

This year, though, their trip was more local — in fact, they didn’t travel outside of the immediate Meadville area. Themed “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself,” Huselton and other organizers said Cornerstone’s 2012 mission’s goal was to bring true meaning to that verse.

“We often say it with words,” said Huselton, but the recent, week-long mission effort “was an opportunity to put our words into action. ... (And) there’s so much here we can do.”

That action, involving upwards of 45 volunteers, came over the course of one week between June 9 and 16. With volunteers grouped together on different projects, here are some highlights of what the local mission accomplished, according to organizers:

-- At Vernon Township’s Roche Park, more than 70 picnic tables were re-painted along with work on two walking bridges, park fitness stations, horseshoe pits, birdhouses and a water fountain, as well as various landscaping-related projects.

-- A young couple’s Randolph Street home received new roofing thanks to the efforts of skilled volunteers who specialize in that type of work. The couple, who have one young child, “were able to (buy) their home at a very good price” recently, said Huselton, “but they knew a lot of work would be needed to be put into it, and the roof was the very first thing that needed to be done.”

-- A single mother’s Elk Street residence now has a newly remodeled bathroom. As with most of the other projects completed during the mission, volunteers simply “knocked on her door and asked if she needed any help” around the house, said Huselton, and the woman — who had purchased remodeling materials but did in fact need help doing the work — graciously accepted the offer.

-- That woman’s next-door neighbor on Elk Street also took volunteers up on their offer of assistance, having two light switches and two doorbells replaced. She then sent the volunteers to another neighbor’s residence, where volunteers worked in a woman’s flower and vegetable gardens, completing tasks she’s unable to. Elsewhere on that street, volunteers also repaired a portion of a retaining wall that had collapsed.

-- At one Radio Tower Hill residence, volunteers established a new flower bed for an elderly woman. She told volunteers “this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for her since she’s lived in Meadville,” said Huselton.

And at another Radio Tower Hill residence, Huselton said, volunteers launched a cleanup effort that assisted another single mother.

“It was a very busy week,” said Huselton.

“The key was that we felt you don’t really need to go to another country or another state to help people out,” said Brian Custard, Cornerstone’s youth pastor.

At Roche Park — a sprawling and popular recreational facility in Vernon Township — the work came as a welcome surprise to township officials, including Manager Dave Stone. “They’re the greatest people in the world, really; they did a fantastic job, and it really revitalized our park,” Stone said. “They came in three or four times (that week), and you can really see the results.”

Stone was also impressed with Cornerstone’s stay-at-home focus, instead of going to a distant mission site this year. “I think this was a fantastic idea, from what I’m hearing about it (helping numerous families in the area). Plus, they gave me a ‘love your neighbor’ shirt and said they were praying for me — and I need it!,” he added.

Cornerstone’s local mission work is now likely to become an annual effort, according to Huselton and Custard.

While Tribune attempts were unsuccessful at contacting some of the families that were helped this year, Custard said the appreciation they conveyed to the work teams was overwhelming and heartwarming — sincere expressions that the workers will never forget.

And the word spread quickly. “I’ve already had people asking if we’re going to do it again” — and for ways they can get involved in helping, he said.

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