HANCOCK COUNTY — Over the years, Jan Burt has cleaned gutters, raked leaves and painted for others. Saturday, she pulled weeds.
“It’s just a way of sharing God’s love,” she said in between dropping weeds into a white trash bag.
Burt and her husband, Steve, were in one of five work groups from Bradley United Methodist Church offering service to the community Saturday morning. After meeting at the church for a short devotional, the groups fanned out across the county to complete their tasks, connecting with members of the community who were referred to them by area service agencies.
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One group stayed at the church to write cards to shut-ins, community servants and others. The other four teams did outdoor chores for local residents in need.
Jean Overton is a generally active person, but recently a couple of pinched nerves have made any yard work that requires bending low a challenge for the New Palestine resident. Hancock County Senior Services helped put Bradley in touch with her; when the agency called to say help would be coming, “I said that would be wonderful,” she said, smiling.
For several years, the church has set aside a Saturday morning for offering help to others, obtaining referrals from local agencies as to who could use the help. Kathy Book, a member who helped coordinate the teams, said the church tries to have Community Service Work Day at least twice a year.
“The focus is to let the community know we’re here to help them, and we don’t just love our own congregation, we love everybody,” Book said while weeding in Overton’s yard.
The service day tasks are typically yard work, but they’ve varied. Over the years, teams have also moved furniture or repaired a deck — anything to lend a hand.
For Mark Vail, Saturday’s tasks included brushing a fresh coat of reddish-brown paint onto a wooden fence outside a home in Greenfield. He leaned it to get it just right — reaching back to get the fence but missing the daylily and shrub in front of it. He, John Groves and Amy Groves were there to do some weeding, too.
Vail said whenever the church has this day of service, he tries to be part of it.
“Two to three times a year isn’t much to ask,” he said. “It’s really satisfying to help other people, and it’s kind of what the church is about.”
From the other side of the fence, John Groves agreed.
“I just like to help people. … People just need positive people in their lives,” he said. He said when he’s out with a work group, team members try to let the people being helped know they can reach out to Bradley if other needs arise later.
Back at the church, Sue True and three others wrote about 75 cards Saturday morning. Some were for shut-ins. Some were for “the saints,” as they’re called — about 25 Bradley members who are 85 years and older. Still others were for Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell, firefighters and law enforcement officers, to thank them for their service and let them know people are praying for them.
True said the card-writing team is an opportunity to serve for those who aren’t able to do yard chores or those who simply feel drawn to this particular task.
“It’s all a part of being Jesus’ hands and feet here in this world,” she said. “We’re not here to make a big splash. … We do it because that’s what Jesus taught us to do.”