280 church volunteers fan out around Charlotte for community service projects

Nearly 300 volunteers got fired up at a pep rally Saturday morning then fanned out all over Charlotte volunteering time to help others.

Members of Providence Baptist Church, assisted by 15 to 20 members of Oakhurst Baptist, performed such jobs as sorting and hanging clothes at the Crisis Assistance Ministry, washing trucks at Loaves and Fishes and packing hygiene kits for A Child’s Place.

In all, there were 280 volunteers and 25 projects in what was called Operation INASMUCH, which takes its name from Scripture in Matthew.

Project co-chairman Dave Miller said Providence Baptist did a similar service operation 12 years ago and that the church mission committee had been planning the current project for six months. The operation is part of Providence Baptist’s 60th anniversary celebration.

“We believe we’re here to service the community,” Miller said. “We’re a mission-minded church and this was one way to express it to ourselves and the community.”

The operation began with a breakfast and pep rally at Providence Baptist on Randolph Road in Charlotte.

Then teams spread out around the city. They scraped windows at the homes of the elderly; did yard work at homes and prepared emergency food bags for Friendship Trays.

At Charlotte Rescue Mission, an eight-member team planned to spend about four hours painting the admissions building.

“I don’t know a whole lot about painting,” said Chris Pappas, 70. “But every time I paint a stroke I know a little bit more.”

His wife, Cheryl, 66, hadn’t been too excited about getting up early on a Saturday morning, but said that after she heard a staff member explain the rescue mission’s work, “I’m so pumped up I’m glad I came.”

Geri Ridenhour usually spends her Saturday mornings sipping coffee and leisurely reading a newspaper.

She also was glad to be involved in the painting project.

“We’re all so blessed in America,” said Ridenhour, 65.

“No matter what we face there’s always somebody we can lend a helping hand to. When this opportunity came up I came out. I love to paint.”