September 11, 2012On a perfect fall Sunday in Hudson, Ohio, more than 600 volunteers from First Congregational Church went out to show their community some love.
Written by Connie Larkman
Written by Connie Larkman
First Serve-Serve First, the church's first all-church, hands-on service day was billed as a pilot project, and while organizers had expected that hundreds of members would spend a few hours living their faith after worship, tackling projects in and around Hudson, more than half the congregation showed up.
"People of all ages were encouraged to join in on the day," said Karen Joshi, one of the project's organizers. "We had a number of families that went out together to pull weeds, clean up parks, even some painting and gardening. Parents liked having an opportunity to serve and set an example for their children. Other adults in the group liked working side by side with youth and children for a change of pace. Probably our youngest volunteer was 5 and our oldest in her 90s."
Some of the church volunteers even brought visitors to lend a hand. Like Angelina Smith, who got into the spirit of the idea pretty quickly. "This was a great project! As a first time visitor, I felt very welcome and grateful for the opportunity."
First Serve organizers were grateful for all the work that was accomplished in such a short time. Volunteers, divided up into 30 teams, spent three hours on Sept. 9 on service projects around Hudson, and at the church. The build-up, fix-up, clean-up work was popular, with more than 80 people on 7 teams taking part. But the food drive, as Joshi pointed out, also stood out as a big success.
"We had a crew of people who drove through the neighborhoods looking for donations that were left on front porches," she said. "We also encouraged members to bring in donations on Sunday and, boy, did they ever. As of today, we easily had 900+ pounds of food and home items processed and delivered to two local food banks, one military unit and to the humane society. Additionally, we have had several deliveries from 'strangers' this week who wanted to donate but were not around on Sunday for pick-up. That is an exciting bonus for us."
Sue Wimer, another of the First Serve-Serve First organizers said it "fits right in" with the UCC's "Faith,In" initiative. The "Faith,In" project celebrates all the ways God is still speaking in the neighborhoods, towns and cities where we live and serve. In more than 123 communities around the country, UCC churches are making their mission work visible, living their faith, loving their community.
Grace and Bob Sauer are already looking forward to the next project. "Loved the multi-ages. The little ones were great helpers. Would be glad to help next year."
The service day wrapped up with community lunch and closing worship. Joshi said, "All the smiles and enthusiasm that were showing once the day was done was great. 'What is next?' so many asked me on the way out. It was amazing to see God in action."
Deborah Brown, member and volunteer said, "I have felt so very blessed and proud to be part of a church family willing to step outside the four walls of our church and give back."
Find out more about "Faith,In" (your community here).