An annual project serves local residents who are disadvantaged or elderly.
Eighty youth, college students and adult leaders are working on five houses in Union County this week as part of the Salkehatchie Summer Service program. The project is a service ministry to upgrade housing and motivate cooperative community efforts.
Volunteers come from throughout South Carolina, with one group coming from North Carolina. Each volunteer pays $200 for supplies and completes work such as repairing roofs, kitchens and bathrooms, floors, porches and painting. All groups volunteering in Union stay at Union County High School for the week. This year, 3,500 youth are involved in Salkehatchie camps, with Union’s camp being one of at least 50 taking place in the state this summer. All camps run Saturday-Saturday.
While making repairs to a house on Lybrand Street, several of the volunteers talked about why they were compelled to volunteer for this year’s program.
“My favorite part is meeting people — the homeowners, neighbors and other workers,” Joeli Banks said.
Amber Burnette also mentioned her favorite part of Salkehatchie Summer Service.
“Total strangers all come together to help families out,” she said.
Campers also identified their respective hometowns.
“I’m from Pinehurst, North Carolina,” Banks announced.
“I’m from Hickory Grove, South Carolina,” Julie Comer added.
“I’m from Chambertown!” said six-year-old Kyana Hall, who was assisting the volunteers with their tasks such as carrying buckets and painting.
Between tasks, volunteers played with Hall, giving her piggyback rides and helping her write her name.
Grace United Methodist Church is the host for the group, and they are fed by other Methodist churches in the Union County as well as Mt. Vernon in Hickory Grove, who catered a meal and served it at Grace. Workers mentioned they were preparing for a talent show scheduled for Thursday evening at Grace.
“It will be fun to laugh at each other after a hard day of work,” Banks said.
The program was created more than 30 years ago by the Rev. John Culp, a Union native who is currently the pastor at Virginia Wingard United Methodist Church in Columbia. This program is governed by the South Carolina Conference Board of Global Ministries which consists of a number of work camps for United Methodist Youth in South Carolina.
The program website — www.salkehatchie.org — references the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10: 29-37 and states, “Many of our neighbors in South Carolina live in homes needing repair and Jesus has called us to love our neighbor.”