Many much-needed projects were scratched off the city of Summerville’s “to-do” list on Saturday, April 21, as more than 330 volunteers banded together in acts of service for their community.
Summerville Cares Day of Service, partnered congregations from three congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, , Mayor Bill Collins and his staff, North Charleston Crisis Ministry, Summerville High School ROTC, St. Paul’s Boy Scout Troop 730, , Dorchester County School District Two School Board, , and 21 businesses from the Summerville area in an effort to strengthen Summerville and beautify the community.
“We have never had this many volunteers at the shelter,” Summerville SPCA Director Courtney Wilson said as she watched 55 volunteers hard at work at the facility. The facility, run mostly by volunteers, provides shelter to some 140 dogs and cats in the Dorchester County area.
Many projects were accomplished at the SPCA. The front of the building was beautified. Borders were laid down and entire new beds of plants were put in, both at the front and side of the parking lot. Two “Romp and Play” areas, large tree-filled spaces created for the dogs to play and exercise, were given a face-lift and tidied up as streams of children filed into the green spaces, raking up pine straw and clearing debris. The exterior walls were painted.
Even the sign near the road was given some curb appeal by a handy team of volunteers from Home Depot who lent their expert touch to the sign, surrounding it with colorful flowers and mulch. One of these energetic employees, Rhonda Illar, brought several bags of several bags of food for the animals donated by Publix, which Rhonda collected on the way to the shelter.
Tracy Hinkle, store manager for the local Home Depot, paused from her digging to offer some insight.
“It’s a good cause,” she said. “When you start something like this, it inspires others to contribute.”
Many of the volunteers discovered that they were the ones who benefited from the experience.
"Since charity is the pure love of Christ, I feel a great joy at being able to help my community and serve my fellow man," said Amy Lima of the Summerville Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
At the back of the facility, quietly working with paint speckled face, 14-year-old Parker Meeks (also from the Summerville Ward) said he was happy to be able to help.
"I think it’s just agreat thing, everyone coming to volunteer," Parker said.
Volunteers also collected donations of food and supplies for the animals. Laura Anderson, a volunteer with the Summerville Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, coordinated efforts to collect these much needed supplies.
“We collected over 300 items for the animals,” she said.
Meanwhile at Eagle Harbor Boys Ranch, members of the Palmetto Land Baptist Church, led by Senior Pastor Gene Carpenter, joined with members of the Young Single Adults Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, led by President Kent Robinson, completed an array of projects. They repaired the pavilion room, restored the pond bank, refreshed the landscaping and applied siding to outbuildings.
"These groups have completed projects that we have been waiting a couple of years for completion due to lack of money and manpower. Money came through to us as a direct result of Day of Service efforts. So now the projects outstanding are dwindling," said Joe Wilson, house parent from Eagle Harbor.
While helping attach siding on an outbuilding, Michael Buttery of the Palmetto Land Baptist Church said:
"They need some electricity out here. I think I have the connections at work to make that happen."
At Summerville High School, 50 ROTC cadets and an equivalent number of LDS Church members came together to restore the landscaping and auditorium stage and dressing rooms.
"The greatest thing is [service] creates a community based school and the fellowship here today is extraordinary," said Brooks Harlow, vice principal of Summerville High School. "No matter how big this town gets it still has thesame small town values. It’s such a blessing … we couldn’t be thankful enough."
Jeff Hall, project leader, who worked specifically on re-painting the auditorium stage, expressed his eagerness to serve during times of struggle.
"Service for me, in times so difficult with the economy, it allows me to forgive my own trials and focus on others," Hall said.
Summerville High PTSA provided material to re-finish the stage.
The ROTC cadets contributed their time and labor to clean up the grounds and wooded areas behind the Summerville High School.
"We do this two to three times a year. We love it because it gets us involved. It’s great to see everyone come out on a Saturday to give their time," said Cadet Master Chief Joe Mitchell, community service officer of the ROTC.
Harlow expressed his gratitude while he served alongside the volunteers.
"We can’t thank the leaders — Sara Powell and Master Chief Colonel Davis of the ROTC — who not only put their time intoday, but who helped organize this whole event," he said.
Piggly Wiggly and , pitched in to provide meals and drinks for the volunteers.
The Summerville High School PTSA donated money for supplies.
Boy Scout Troop 730 of , led by Scoutmaster Jeff Artman tackled over-due needs at Gahagan Park. They mulched the beds and applied sealant to the wooden structures.
Members of the LDS Oakbrook Ward, under the leadership of Day of Service coordinator, Jim Natividad, refreshed landscaping at the Seago Library while conducting food drives for the Palmetto House and HELP of Summerville. These activities were followed by a blood drive at their meeting house on BaconBridge Road in conjunction with the American Red Cross.
Residents who signed up during the kickoff at Azalea park remained with pre-registered volunteers in cleaning up Azalea park, Shepard Park and Doty Park.
Summing up the activities, Pastor Daniel Carpenter of Palmetto Land Baptist Church observed:
"Day ofService is encouraging. It is great to see that we aren't the only ones who care about our community. Also, the groups served will be appreciative and it will bring visibility to organizations who are doinggood. It will encourage them in their good work."
This article was submitted by Ann Yoxtheimer.