More than 150 volunteers of all ages spent most of Saturday working on 35 homes throughout the area helping neighbors during the third annual Servants Day.
Groups helped people in Wapakoneta, Waynesfield, Uniopolis and St. Johns with household chores and upkeep. They did painting, window replacement and even built a couple of handicap-accessible ramps.
A Wapakoneta High School eighth-grader along with his father and sister helped Kim Zook, of Summerplace Drive, with gardening and painting her roof as well as painting a storage building.
C.J. Griffis, his sister, Megan Griffis, and their father, Steve Griffis, decided to participate this year in Servants Day, a first for the family.
“I just wanted to help the community,” C.J. Griffis said. “It is all about helping others so they don’t have to do it themselves. We just decided to get out of the house and help others”
As his father walked along the peak of the mobile home roof, C.J. Griffis shared he does a lot of gardening and other household chores at home so he looked forward to helping Zook with those activities.
Next door, another crew helped an elderly couple, Judy and Roy Abner, with treating their wood handicap-accesible ramp to their home, laying carpet in the living room and hallway and general fall cleaning.
Tom Shaw joined Tom Brookhart and his son, Troy, to clean the handicap ramp. Meanwhile, a group of women were inside helping clean the entire mobile home.
“We are God’s hands,” Shaw said, referring to Servants Day’s motto of “Christ has no hands but ours.” “We are doing what needs to be done to help other people and it feels good in our hearts. There is a lot of self-satisfaction in knowing we are being God’s hands and feet on Earth.”
With heavy rains Friday night and Saturday morning, Shaw told the Abners some of his crew would be back during the week to treat and stain the wood.
“It is supposed to be a one day affair, but some things require you to work more than one day,” said Shaw, who was the project director at the site. “I enjoy helping other people and the people you help really appreciate it.”
During a break, Judy Abner talked with Shaw outside her trailer about a nearby family’s reception for their son, who had been fighting in the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Abner and Shaw also talked about other projects in the area, but she returned her focus to the project at her home as they waited for the delivery of carpet.
“I am just so appreciative, I could cry,” Judy Abner told Shaw as her voice quivered. “I am just so thankful for you and to God.”
At 501 Court St., a group of approximately 15 teens and five adults work on painting the outside of a two-story house.
A 2012 graduate of Wapakoneta High School stood on a ladder painting the cedar siding with a fresh coat of white paint, while many of the other teens were enjoying lunch.
Josh Sturgill, who recently returned from a mission trip to Swaziland, South Africa, said he participated in Saturday’s event, his third consecutive Servants Day, for one reason — a servant’s heart.
“I love making a difference in the world and helping people,” Sturgill, who earned his Eagle Scout while in high school, said. “I get a feeling of satisfaction when the people are happy with the work — and so far every one has been appreciative of what is done.”
He has been to missions in Maryland and Pennsylvania and plans to go Israel and Egypt in the future, but for the Shell and Marathon gasoline station worker it has been the trip to Swaziland that taught him the most.
“In Africa it is much more slow paced and more dangerous,” Sturgill said. “There are dark areas where there is no or little electricity so there are no lights. I learned patience because I had to wait an hour to get my food and sometimes longer to get my drink — so I definitely have more patience now.”
A 15-year-old Waynesfield-Goshen freshman helped paint a home with a fresh coat of white paint in the Four Seasons trailer park. The Uniopolis Methodist Church member said he decided to take part after recently hearing about the event during a youth group meeting.
“I just heard about it and I thought I should go out and help other people,” Alex Barden said. “It just feels good to help people, help people who need it and help people who appreciate what you are doing.”
At the same home was Rodney Ritchie, who is organizing the new youth group for the church and wants to get across to the youth “that when you serve others, you learn to serve God better.” This is the new youth groups first service project.
“I hope to show kids like Alex that this is what God wants us to do and that our charge in life is to help people,” Ritchie said. “This shows the compassion of Christ and it may lead others to Christ.”
He also mentioned he loves the idea that Servants Day brings all the churches in the region together for a single project day.
“Working with youth groups in the past, they don’t always want to work together because they feel like they will lose kids to another youth group,” Ritchie said. “The great thing is is this event is not like that.
“We need to think about this that in the end there is one God and one heaven and it is not separated by denomination,” he said. “We all serve one God and days like these become more common because God wants us to all live and work together to better things and better the lives of other people.”