The Winchester First United Methodist Church youth group, TeenFire, will put biblical principals of love and service into action this weekend.
After learning about the recent tornadoes in Alabama, youth minister Derek Hickman said he immediately started thinking of ways to get the youth involved in relief efforts.
“They’re already used to giving, and they love to help,” Hickman said.
As a former resident of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and former minister of music at Tuscaloosa Bible Methodist Church, Hickman felt a particularly strong calling to help the people in the area.
Loss of electricity and phone service in the hardest hit areas made it difficult to contact friends and acquaintances, but Hickman said he finally received word from a current member of Tuscaloosa Bible last Friday. The two soon arranged a trip for volunteers to bring supplies to Tuscaloosa this weekend, May 13-15.
“I said, ‘Wow, that’s short notice, but we’ll do it,’” Hickman said.
Members of the Winchester First Methodist congregation sprang into action to help Hickman and the team of approximately 15 teenagers prepare for the trip. Oliver Trucking Company agreed to donate the use of a tractor trailer and a driver to haul supplies and people from throughout the community began making donations.
The church has established a Shop and Share program with the local Walmart store. From 6 to 9 p.m. today and Thursday, shoppers will receive a flyer with information about the Tuscaloosa trip and a list of supplies. They can purchase items from the list and leave the donations in a shopping cart at Walmart.
“Our mission is simply to distribute,” Hickman said of the trip.
Most people escaped the tornado with nothing but the clothes on their backs, so all donations are appreciated, Hickman said. Clothing of all sizes is the first priority, but personal hygiene products, diapers, first aid supplies, canned food and bottled water are all needed, as well. A complete list of supplies is available at www.teenfireonline.com.
For the TeenFire youth, community service has always been a priority. The youth organized the Hope for Haiti 5K run/walk after the country was hit by an earthquake in 2010. Every Tuesday, they host a community outreach event at College Park called the Tuesday Night Special. Youths are invited to the College Park gym for food, games and fellowship.
“We’ve tried to cultivate an attitude of giving in our youth,” Hickman said.
Each month, the teens participate in what they call Face of Love projects, finding ways to help local people. During the summer, TeenFire organizes a Face of Love week, which the teens spend doing mission projects throughout Winchester.
“The idea is, we want to be the face of Christ in the community,” Hickman said.
In Alabama, they will spend the weekend at Tuscaloosa Bible Methodist, including sleeping on the floor, so they can be of assistance to the tornado victims. The church will serve as a distribution point where people can pick up supplies, but supplies also will be delivered to people who have no transportation.
The team will leave at 1 p.m. Friday, so all supplies must be received before then. For more information, contact Derek Hickman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-3642.
“It’s daunting, but I think the community is going to come through,” Hickman said.
Contact Rachel Parsons at email@example.com.