The new gardens surrounding the Chapel at Belfast’s Grove Cemetery received a springtime boost this past Earth Day when a group of young volunteers from The Game Loft joined forces with the Belfast Garden Club.

15 Game Loft members along with two adult volunteers celebrated the green holiday by assisting the Belfast Garden Club in getting the cemetery gardens ready for summer. Game Loft volunteers dug up tree roots, hauled rocks, took up buried plastic, removed sod, spread mulch and planted many new shrubs and trees.

The Game Loft is a community center and “positive youth development organization, which focuses on non-electronic gaming and community service for area youth,” Program Coordinator Nikky Boyington explained. “Over the winter Game Loft member volunteers shovel driveways and in the summer mow lawns. Today we wanted to have a group event to celebrate Earth Day.“

Donna Loomans, administrative assistant at The Game Loft, added, “We like to show them that volunteering is not only good for their communities, but is fun as well.”

Organizers said it was easy to see that was true as the dirt, mulch and smiles flew around the chapel April 22.

The partnership was a big success for the Garden Club. The club, whose beautification committee has been working feverishly on a project to revitalize the landscaping around Belfast’s Grove Cemetery Chapel, benefitted from the young backs and strong muscles of the 15 volunteers.

“We are so thankful that The Game Loft folks thought of us,” said Ann Mullen, chairwoman of the cemetery beautification committee. “They got so much done! We’d love to have them back anytime.”

The cemetery chapel and environs are currently part of a several-phase project undertaken by Steve Boguen, cemetery superintendent, the Belfast Garden Club and the cemetery board to make services at the chapel possible and comfortable.

Last year a grant from the Golden Rule Foundation enabled the Chapel to be made handicapped accessible. Steve and his crew laid crushed stone to make space for level seating, lovely reclaimed antique planters were installed, and perennial bulbs, plantings and shade trees were planted by the Garden Club.

The trees that The Game Loft volunteers planted on Earth Day are part of the “Remembrance Tree” project organized last fall by the Garden Club in which community members sponsor a tree in honor of a loved one. This year granite benches have been installed at the chapel site as part of the “Remembrance” facet of the project. There are several trees and benches still available for sponsorship.

The new changes to the landscape around the Grove Cemetery Chapel will be on display Saturday, May 28, when a dedication of the memorial trees and benches will be held at 10 a.m. The public is encouraged to attend. To arrange to sponsor a tree or bench, or for more information, contact Ann Mullen at 338-9125 or Diane Allmayer-Beck at 338-3105, or email belfastgardenclub@gmail.com.