When volunteering, the most important trait we can exhibit is flexibility. Understanding that even the best laid plans may not go as expected, but our job is to pitch in and do whatever we can to be helpful. That definitely came into play on day one of camp. Our theme for the day was Community Response, and our campers responded positively not only to changing plans, but to the needs of our non-profit partners.
We started the morning at First Missionary Baptist Church Mission House which was created primarily as a cold weather shelter to help those – especially the elderly, very young, and sick – who may not have adequate heat in their homes – or may not even have a home – to keep them warm during a hard freeze. With south Georgia known for its heat most of the year, come winter, many are not prepared for freezing temperatures, and symptoms of hypothermia can set in within 1-2 hours. The shelter also opens on-demand in response to other emergency situations. When not being used as an emergency shelter, the Mission House hosts Backpack Buddies (a feeding program ensuring students have food when not in school), and Stork’s Nest (providing necessities to new and young mothers and their children). Our primary volunteer task was to paint, but with the extreme humidity, we were unable to properly do so. Our campers instead busied themselves moving boxes and furniture out of closets and into storage, organizing, and cleaning rooms so they can be properly utilized.
Our afternoon was spent at the local Salvation Army which helps individuals and families during times of personal hardship, and after natural disasters. Ironically, their building was a victim of flooding from the recent rains so, once again, we were unable to accomplish some of the tasks we had hoped, but we were able to organize and pack food boxes, sort donations, and organize the thrift store which helps to raise money for their programs and services.
Along with the importance of flexibility, we learned that every task no matter how menial it may seem, can make a huge difference to our local non-profits and their staff. We are proud to do our part in helping these relief agencies who do so much for so many people in times of need.