Originally published Aug. 5, 2013.
When the church council at Evangelical United Methodist Church met in January to discuss plans for outreach, the community of Huntington was at the top of every person's list.
The result: During the past week, July 29 through Aug. 1, more than 107 people participated in service projects benefiting the city, its various organizations and private residents.
The initiative was titled "Mission: Huntington."
Rev. Marti Lundy, senior pastor at Evangelical UMC, says the plan was simple.
"Usually we take a mission trip," she states. "However, this year everyone talked about how we could meet some of the needs of this community right here."
Lundy adds that using connections that members had with various organizations, the team was able to develop a list of service projects that volunteers could participate in.
"They worked very hard and have been very busy," she notes. "In fact, some of them took time off from work to participate in the projects."
Organizations that benefitted from the project included the Literacy Coalition, Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County, the Community Garden, Lincoln Elementary School, Parkview Huntington YMCA, New Life Food Pantry, the Huntington City-Township Public Library, Huntington ReStore, Huntington Free Clinic and several private residents.
"When we approached the literacy coalition, they were excited," says Lundy. "We were told that prior to us contacting them, no one had ever called to ask how they could help."
Several women worked together to sew more than 450 bags for the group. The bags will be donated to every second-grader in Huntington County, filled with school supplies.
"We had volunteers working in the rain at the community garden," Lundy adds. "There was a lot to do."
The group also volunteered at Love INC, helping with the Back to School program and food pantry; installed a basketball hoop at Lincoln Elementary to replace one that was stolen; painted dugouts at Homier Park, assisted at the New Life Fellowship Pantry stocking shelves and sent teenagers to the humane shelter to play with the animals.
"There were also several private residents who are not members of our church, who needed help around their yards," Lundy states. "We helped to trim trees, clean gutters and yards and built a handicap ramp for a resident who couldn't afford to build one."
She adds that the response from the community has been overwhelming.
"Everyone appreciated the help and thanked us," she notes. "It also opened the eyes of many of our volunteers to the many needs that this community has."
Lundy says Evangelical United Methodist is a mission-oriented church and that Mission: Huntington is something that will definitely be held again next year.
"As tired as our volunteers are, they are already talking about next year," she states. "They also want to extend it for longer than a week next time as well."
Lundy adds that participation in the project is not limited to members of the church only.
"We had several volunteers who are friends or relatives of our members," she says. "Also, if anyone wants to join us next time, they are more than welcome and can contact the church."
She adds that there is benefit for all.
"I think it's our call as Christians to be a blessing to others," Lundy says. "The church is not just four walls. There are needs in the community and we need to be out there serving others."
For more information on Mission: Huntington or to get involved, contact Lundy at the Evangelical United Methodist Church at 356-6975 or eum@ eumc.org.
The church is located at 1000 Flaxmill Rd., Huntington.