Daily Reporter staff writer
GREENFIELD — There’s a walnut tree near the front pasture at Edelweiss Equine-Assisted Therapy Center. It stands just outside the fence, though its branches reach out over it.
Most of the little spheres lying in the pasture Saturday morning, however, weren’t walnuts.
“You gotta watch out for the fresh ones,” said Ashley Forsythe. She and her parents, Brad and Denise, wielded rakes and pitch forks to help clean out the pasture where Thor the Clydesdale, Minnie the miniature horse and Bruce’s Son — producer of one of those smelly fresh ones Ashley mentioned — spend much of their time.
The Forsythes were part of a group that spent the morning volunteering at the therapy riding center, where other helping hands built tie stalls for horses, cut weeds, cleared brush and helped unload a trailer of donated items. That crew was one of many sent by Park Chapel Christian Church to help area residents and community organizations from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday by offering a morning of free labor to accomplish odd jobs to help homes and agencies.
The project, dubbed #sent2rebuild, comes near the end of a sermon series on Nehemiah, whose story in the Bible focuses on the rebuilding of the destroyed walls of Jerusalem.
Danny Curry, spiritual development minister at the church (and fellow scooper in the pasture Saturday), said in the series on Nehemiah, ministers encouraged the congregation to look at what was broken down in their own lives and in the community around them and to renew, rebuild and restore.
“As God’s people, that’s what we should be known for,” Curry said.
Part of that challenge to rebuild involved a morning of group service to the community. Stacey Butterfield, who serves on the relational discipleship team at the church, said the volunteer effort was meant to be an opportunity to work together as a church to meet needs outside its walls. Families and Bible study small groups were encouraged to serve together; 180 volunteer spots were available.
Saturday, the volunteers gathered at Park Chapel for doughnuts, prayer and some instructions before carpooling to their assignments.
With her rake in the pasture, Denise Forsythe said it’s easy to live in a community and not know all the groups doing good in it. Curry said this morning of service, and similar mornings like it by the church in recent years, tend to introduce people to organizations they didn’t know about and sometimes yield volunteers beyond the day of service, which helps them be rebuilders year-round.
Chris Kelly, board president at Edelweiss, said the center values the exposure and the labor. Send eight or nine people there for a morning, and there’s “a whole week’s worth of work we’re going to get done in three hours,” she said.
Other volunteers spent their morning delivering donations, such as 1,000 jars of peanut butter members gathered for the Hancock County Food Pantry.
Other groups spent their three hours helping private homeowners or community organizations such as Good Shepherd Community for seniors, Greenfield-Central Schools or The Landing center for youth.
At Hancock Hope House, the county’s lone homeless shelter, Kelsey Williams and fellow members of her small group helped install shelves in a storage area, first moving everything out of the room before they built the shelves. They were also asked to make some of the clothing easier for customers to reach at the shelter’s WEARhouse thrift store. They figured out how to lower a rack of suits to make them more accessible.
Williams, a teacher at Mt. Comfort Elementary School, said she enjoys volunteering and also appreciated getting to know her group on a more personal level. Having moved to the area in July, she’s still meeting people and learning about the community.
Bobby Wade, another volunteer at the Hope House, said it’s easy to say one is a Christian but feels that deeds should accompany those words.
“For me, it’s simply living out what I believe,” he said, “and putting that into action.”