Utah residents have been challenged to participate in statewide service activities during July.

The governor has declared July 18 "Take Pride in Utah Day," and is encouraging residents statewide to take part in making Utah an even more beautiful place to live. Gov. Mike Leavitt declared that one purpose of the event is "to make the public aware of the beauty which Utah holds and of the opportunities to utilize that beauty while, at the same time, preserving it for future generations."On this day, the efforts of individuals across Utah will be mobilized to complete many projects within local communities.

It is suggested that local residents form groups and plan worthwhile acts of service that can be completed during this event. Groups can be comprised of any number of individuals who care about their community and have a desire to serve. Individuals can gather into volunteer groups organized by neighborhood, already established service groups, by a common religious affiliation, or simply as friends to participate in a rewarding service project. Anyone willing to lend a hand is welcome to get involved in improving community areas.

There are a multitude of opportunities for groups willing to take the time to share their time and talents with the community. Volunteers can beautify the neighborhood in which they live by cleaning school parking lots and grounds, removing weeds from an empty lot, picking up litter or maintaining other shared common areas in the community, such as parks and cemeteries.

Another way to help is to find neighbors in need of special assistance and provide a hand in maintaining their yard or fixing up their house.

On past "Take Pride in Utah" days, groups have contributed to improving their communities in many ways. One notable activity was the building of two community parks in just one day.

Some opportunities to offer service in Utah County, on July 18 or throughout the month of July, are listed below.

- Assist your local parks and recreation department. Parks and recreation departments throughout Utah County are in need of groups or individuals to assist with beautifying local public areas. The Parks and Recreation Department in Provo has opportunities available to assist with projects for the fire departments and power companies.

They also have group opportunities arranged to assist with clean-up at local parks and cemeteries. A book of volunteer opportunities is available at the Provo Parks and Recreation office that individuals can look through to obtain ideas and sign up for specific projects. To obtain information on specific projects within your area, contact your local Parks and Recreation Department.

- Revitalize the grounds at the Youth Detention Center. The Division of Youth Corrections is seeking to renovate the grounds of their former youth detention center in south Provo. They are planning to hold a day treatment in the building which is currently not in use. They need both donations and workers to offer volunteer service. Donations of trees, concrete blocks, sand and picnic tables are needed to update the outside of the facility. Volunteers are needed for yard work activities and to help build a patio at the facility.

- Help maintain trails. The Uinta National Forest Service needs assistance with trail and campground maintenance because of damage caused by the wet spring weather. Trail clean-up is needed in the Pleasant Grove, Spanish Fork and Heber Forest areas. Other opportunities to help the Forest Service include construction of trails and fences and installing water lines throughout Utah County.

For more information about these and other volunteer opportunities in Utah County, contact the United Way Volunteer Center at 374-8108 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit the United Way of Utah County website at (www.unitedwayuc.org).