BOTKINS — As the Anna and Botkins United Methodist Churches started to think about what they wanted to do this year for a mission trip, they thought, maybe we should help someone in our own community.
They set their goal at taking the time to show love to one more person. Rather than taking a trip to another state or country to help, and do mission work (which they’ve done for the past five years), they wanted to help members of their own community with home repairs or other basic needs. Their goal was to spread love and bless those living in their community, they called the initiative, “Love One More”.
“This type of project is a lot more flexible. Instead of going out of state for a week, people can come work on the project before or after work, and around sports practices,” said Abby Lightle, of Anna, one of the project leaders, youth group leader, one of the lay leaders at the churches, and a teacher at Fort Loramie.
They started by sending out letters to homeowners for applications for who to help, and businesses for construction supplies, they also drove around looking for places in need of help.
Ida Mae Craft, 92, 109 Hickory St., Botkins, heard about the project from one of her neighbors.
The home she’d lived in for the past 44 years had seen better days. There were tarps covering holes on the roof, and the outside could use a fresh coat of paint. There were also no funds and no immediate family to help her out.
The “Love One More” group decided this was the home to help.
“I am so thrilled they are doing it,” Craft told the Sidney Daily News on Friday as volunteers were scraping paint off the side of the house and pulling old shingles off the roof. “I can’t say thank you enough.”
Around 60 volunteers, from ages two and a half to over 90 years old, worked in the heat from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., July 21 to 24, on Craft’s home. Everyone, regardless of age or ability was asked to come out and help.
They replaced the roof on the house and garage, did some landscaping including mulching, repaired and rebuilt the ramp entrance to her home, scraped off and re-painted a portion of the house, and repaired the front porch so that she can once again sit on her porch and enjoy her flowers.
“(The noise the volunteers are making) doesn’t bother me,” Craft said. “I’m just thankful they’re helping me.”
This is the sixth roof Lightle has done, and the first local one.
“Seeing the joy the homeowner gets out of it is amazing,” Lightle said. “Watching how much good can happen when people come together is great. It’s hot, but fun. We have awesome people out here kicking butt.”
Randy Locker, the pastor of the churches, hasn’t been able to help out with the project due to his wife being hospitalized.
“I have been by her side the vast majority of the time while my churches have been utterly amazing in their prayer support for us and their dedication to following God’s call in this mission project,” he said. “Even these 90+ degree days have not slowed them down.”
We make sure everyone is drinking lots of water, and we take an hour lunch break each day, Lightle said.
Amy Bellmer, of Sidney, was on site with her dad Friday helping with the project. Her specialty is construction, and also works with other groups on mission projects.
“(Doing the projects) is the best feeling of accomplishment. It’s like the feeling you get when your child or family member or best friend achieves something,” she said.
Georgia Platfoot, Colton Nanik, and Autumn Lampert, all of Anna, were scraping paint off the back of the house on Friday.
They said volunteering is tiring, but very fun. They said getting to hang out with your friends all day is a plus, but when you see all the work done it’s very rewarding.
“I know they didn’t do this to gain recognition for themselves,” Locker said. “To have my churches do such awesome work has lifted our spirits during a very trying time. … They haven’t missed a beat. They have risen to the occasion and more.”
More photos and daily updates from the project can be found on the “Anna UMC” Facebook page.
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