First Baptist Church in Seymour was packed with an estimated 150 volunteers last Saturday morning from at least eight different churches prepared to enjoy a little fellowship before heading out into the community for The Alley’s annual Thousand Ten Project.
“We just want to help the community by showing God’s love through us to them,” said team leader Tina Fleetwood, who started in the second year of the project that was first held a dozen years ago. “A lot of these people that we will be helping today are struggling financially or just need some extra love, and that is what his project is all about.”
In teams of 10, people from different church organizations and others in the community take the money collected and go into the community to help those in need, whether it’s buying groceries, providing furniture or clothing, paying utility bills, mowing lawns or buying fuel.
“The goal is to have 10 teams with 10 people with $10 each to bring $10,000 into the community,” Fleetwood said. “We haven’t reached that goal yet, but that’s the idea, and we are still helping those in the community that need it.”
The annual event always occurs on the second Saturday in September, and this was the 12th year for it. The numbers have grown since the pandemic.
“We were not able to do the project during the pandemic, which was heartbreaking for families because they depended on us, but since then, we were able to grow in volunteers,” Fleetwood said.
She said families can sign up if they are needing assistance for the project, and as long as they have enough teams and volunteers, they strive to help out and even go a step beyond.
“Sometimes, if we have more teams than families, we will go to Walmart or gas stations and pay for people’s groceries or fuel,” she said.
Fleetwood said she always enjoys seeing the reactions of children when they receive a certain food that the volunteers donate.
“The kids is what melts the heart,” she said. “Some families can’t always afford to buy those special treats, so the fact that we can go out and get that for them and see that excited grin on their face just really hits the heart. They see the love we have for them.”
Gary Jacobi said he was excited to get together with his church members as this was his first time participating in the project.
“I think my main goal is to just help someone that needs it,” he said.
Before houses are assigned to the designated teams, many of the volunteers mingled and enjoyed fellowship together.
First United Methodist Church members Pat Prather, Ashley Sargent and Kevin Gabbard talked about what they like most about being part of the project for many years.
“I think for one, just helping the community and the team bonding we get from it is what I like most,” Sargent said. “This gets us to come together outside of our normal Sunday.”
Prather said she enjoys finding out what projects will be assigned as they are always different every year.
“We have people of all ages that volunteer, from young to old,” Prather said.
Gabbard said he enjoys seeing the families and knowing that the ministry made a difference in the community.
“I think the families we help have all been very grateful,” he said.
Before the volunteers headed out into the community, lead pastor Jeremy Myers spoke about the importance of the project and then led the group in song.
“This community involvement restores the faith in humanity, and we just want to remind the community to get involved, to reach out and support those in need,” he said. “This is an opportunity for all of us to come together to give that support.”
The Alley is a nontraditional church that ministers to the poor, the addicted and the physically and spiritually hungry.
They feed those in need from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and have Celebrate Recovery on Wednesday.