By David Kellin, email@example.com
Out of Heath Springs, SC and down Flint Ridge Road stands Flint Ridge Baptist Church. Near the intersections of Flint Ridge road and Rob Neal road, the church is a beacon of compassion each Christmas season.
Throughout the year, the members of the church collect donations of bikes, clothes, and toys to be distributed to needy families during the Christmas On The Ridge event.
The activity buildingmain room is filled wall to wall with gifts. Tables laden with toys and clothes dominate the main portion of the space. Two walls are lined with a total of 75 bikes. The bikes range from the smallest starters to full-sized mountain. On the raised stage four tables are covered with gift wrap, scissors, and tape. Volunteers are ready at each to wrap gifts and place tags on the gifts.
Volunteers arrive starting at 7:00am and sit down for a warm breakfast from volunteers who arrived even earlier. The pastor Kelvin Hinson gathers everyone for a morning pre-start pep talk. He explains that starting at 9:00am, families will begin to arrive. Two families at a time will be served every 15 minutes. One adult volunteer and youth runners will accompany each family. One young boy interrupts to ask a question “Pastor, will the runners have to be fast?”
As the person picks out an object, one of the youth will run it to one of the four wrapping tables. As the gifts are wrapped they are taken into a hall with four tables to await loading into the family’s vehicle. If the family can’t accommodate the bike in the vehicle, and a fleet of trucks are waiting to follow them home to deliver the bike.
The process flows seamlessly. Many of the volunteers have served in this ministry for years. New volunteers from Mount Calvary Outreach in Kershaw are guided by those who have done it for years. There are no breaks or stopping in the flow of families. Pastor Hinson acknowledges that there may be more families tha those registered. The community has been hit hard in the past decade with the closing of the Springs Mill in Kershaw, and more recently the closing of Duracell in Lancaster. The international strife has impacted the Soybean growers in the area, as China had slowed down purchases recently, and they have not been restarted. All of this has led to a greater need in this rural community family.
The food pantry is sporting empty shelves as bags upon bags of food are made for the coming families. What was not seen, that might have been at so many other events like this, is a flurry of church literature. This church family is giving for the sole sake of giving.
No doubt prayers are offered and given. The atmosphere is one of love. At the end of the day, it could be argued that the volunteers may have benefited from the love shared as well.
The purpose is apparent in the interactions with the families. We care about you.