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Parishioners Perform Community Service In Lieu of Prayer Alone

From sandwich making to yard clean up, dozens gathered to give or perform tasks for the elderly or underserved.

Not a sermon, but cool air, hot coffee, doughnuts and a long list of chores greeted parishioners at the morning of Jan. 29 for the church's .

For the last couple of years when a month has five Sundays, that last Sunday of the month becomes a Service Worship Sunday where instead of heading inside the chapel to listen to Pastor Kim Englemann deliver a sermon, the group heads out into the community to do such things as deliver freshly made sandwiches to the homeless in a park, or do gardening work in the yard of an elderly couple, or, as was the case on Jan. 29, a group of Boy Scouts helped put together shelves at a local nonprofit organization.

Linda Bale was part of a group getting ready to get down and get dirty in the yard of an elderly couple. She loves gardening so it's a labor of love, she said.

"We (the volunteers)  get more out of it than they do," she said.

In one room, Pat Strandburg oversaw a small group (of which I was one along with my husband) scooping powdered laundry detergent into small bags for clients at InnVision, a shelter for homeless. Strandburg made sure the group was supplied with both soap and bags, but it was the bags that would prove to be hardest to come by.

"I stole these," Strandburg said strolling in with a box of sandwich-size plastic bags.

Strandburg raided other rooms at the church, snagging all the small bags she could find so that in the end 388 bags would be ready to clean 388 loads of laundry.

Down the hall Nedra Shunk had 200 cloth drawstring bags ready to fill with travel size toothpaste, shampoo, hair conditioner, lotion, soap and more; all of which would also be delivered to a nearby homeless shelter.

The bags were all handmade with the help of other volunteers; some cut the fabric, some pinned pieces in place, others stitched to create the reusable bags. The yearlong process involves collecting the goods, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste from a local dentist, the hotel size hair products and soaps from parishioners' travels, and the scraps of fabric donated by Calico Corners in Saratoga.

One by one volunteers took an empty bag and filled it until the bags, or the toiletry items, were gone. As hard as it was for Strandburg to find bags for the laundry detergent, Shunk's group ran out of washcloths, razors and combs very quickly meaning a host of bags would be on the skimpy side.

WVPC was joined by two Boy Scout Troops and , which was there to learn how WVPC coordinates Service Worship Sundays so that it, too, can implement the program there.

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