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'Angels with hammers' lend hand

Youths repair three homes in North Augusta

Posted: July 23, 2014 - 8:55am
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Jacob Stagg (far right) removes a tin sheet as he and other volunteers repair and replace a tin roof on a North Augusta home as part of a Salkehatchie Summer Service project on Thursday, July 17, 2014. The group, which is comprised of volunteer campers from churches around South Carolina, spent a week repairing the home starting July 12. JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF  Jon-Michael Sullivan
Jon-Michael Sullivan
Jacob Stagg (far right) removes a tin sheet as he and other volunteers repair and replace a tin roof on a North Augusta home as part of a Salkehatchie Summer Service project on Thursday, July 17, 2014. The group, which is comprised of volunteer campers from churches around South Carolina, spent a week repairing the home starting July 12. JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF

They have been called “angels with hammers” and “teens on a mission.”

One week each summer, they visit communities to repair homes for the needy. Youths ranging in age from 14 to 21, along with their adult leaders, make up the Salkehatchie Summer Service, a ministry of the United Methodist Church.

Last week, Grace United Methodist opened its doors for lodging to the 34 workers from different parts of the state who make up the North Augusta Camp. They spent a week repairing leaky roofs, putting up sheetrock, painting, stabilizing floors and walls and rebuilding porches and outbuildings at three sites. This year, there were 52 camps statewide.

The Rev. Jim Dennis, senior pastor of Grace United and coordinator of the North Augusta Camp, said that while his involvement with Salkehatchie goes back almost to its inception in 1978, the North Augusta Camp is only in its second year.

Workers arrived July 13 and spent that day touring the work sites, deciding where they would work and meeting the families. They also spent time in getting to know one another. Sunday was spent in church activities Monday they hit the ground running.

“They’re up around 5:15 and are on the site by 7 a.m.,” Dennis said. “Each workday includes time for prayer and devotion with the families.”

Dennis said while Grace United provided lodging and some meals, others also helped the volunteers.

“I’d like to personally thank Kyle Smith, principal at Paul Knox Middle School, for providing the showers,” he said.

On Thursday, the Edgefield Salkehatchie Camp provided a barbecue lunch at Grace’s Wesley Center.

Emily Stone and Halie West, both 18 and from Bethel UMC in Walterboro, S.C., said the camp was a new experience for them.

“This is our church’s first time participating in Salkehatchie,” Stone said. “It has been an eye opener for me. I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have and I’ve realized that we who have plenty take so much for granted. Things don’t always go the way we want – we run out of paint or the shingles might not fit, but it is ultimately for a reason. I hope my experience inspires others to do more community work.”

West said she has “learned how to roof and how to wear power tools. I’ve learned to work hard – sitting on a hot roof for four hours is hard work.

‘‘I’ve also learned that some people live differently and I hope that I have been able to fix something to help make life better for them.”

Dennis said not only do the participants donate their labor, they pay $215 each to attend camp, except when a church sponsors them.

“All of the money goes toward materials, food and other items necessary for the camp,” he said. “Because North Augusta is a small camp, this camp also partners with Aiken County United Way’s Project Vision to get the job done.”

Community Investment/Project Vision Director Tammy Davis said this partnership allows for a greater impact on the community.

“It allows us to provide vital home repairs for low-income senior citizens and disabled people in Aiken County,” she said. “Salkehatchie provides the workers and we share expenses for supplies and materials.”

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