UNION — Around 75 volunteers are showing love in Union this week by repairing homes and witnessing to local residents.
The Salkehatchie Summer Service Project is currently in its 37th year, with 36 camps and 3,485 workers across the state.
One of those camps — consisting of around 75 workers ranging in age from 14-81 — is set up in Union and based out of Grace United Methodist Church.
Campers arrived on Saturday for a tour of the homes in which they would be working, and on Sunday, they attended church services, as well as a movie at Union Square Cinemas, before hearing special guest speaker Miss South Carolina Brooke Mosteller. On Monday, campers woke up at 5:30 a.m. — as they will each day through Friday — to begin a day of hard work, witnessing and fellowship.
A Salkehatchie Summer Service Project poster at Grace UMC reads, “God answers prayers in the most mysterious manner… No one out there is looking for Angels with Hammers.”
The Salkehatchie “angels” are repairing five houses in Union this year, with the largest task being roofs. Other work includes painting, plumbing, electrical, renovation, floor restructuring and some yard work.
The Union camp is led by the Rev. Don Brown, who has been involved with the project for many years and has been a director for three years.
“This is a way for the youth to respond to their faith,” Brown said, explaining that a cross is displayed in front of each of the work-site homes and campers witness to residents. “We’re only coming to make it better and witness through our faith. We’re showing love that has been given to us.”
Campers are mostly from North Carolina and South Carolina, with two coming from Ohio and one from Indiana.
One volunteer is Wayne Smith, pastor at Brookland UMC in West Columbia. This marks Smith’s third year with the program.
“We’re trying to make homes and lives a little better,” Smith said.
Smith said Brown spoke about Salkehatchie at his church and touched his heart. This year, Smith’s wife and oldest daughter are in Union volunteering with him.
The annual project is also a source of funds for the local economy. Brown said the project easily brings at least $20,000 into the community in the way of purchasing building supplies, food, gas for buses and incidentals.
Each of the teen volunteers pays $215 to participate. The project also received a $2,000 grant from Broad River Electric Cooperative, and Brown said several area churches also made donations. Each of the local United Methodist churches also support the project by providing lunch and supper for the group.
Brown said the project would be impossible without donations, which are needed year round.
To make a donation or receive more information about Salkehatchie Summer Service Project, call Grace United Methodist Church at 864-427-1266.