Volunteers help around town

Published 9:08 pm Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bags: Cheryl Taylor, left, and Casey Carlson sew bags to donate to Elephant’s Fork Elementary School during Operation Inasmuch by Suffolk Presbyterian Church and West End Baptist Church on Saturday. The students are able to purchase the bags and other items in the school “store” with points they earn for good behavior.

Visitors to the yard sale at Suffolk Presbyterian Church on Saturday may have been surprised to find that every item could be had for just a quarter.

Volunteers from the church teamed up with volunteers from West End Baptist Church for “Operation Inasmuch” on Saturday. The group fanned out across the city to offer low-cost items at the yard sale, construct ramps for people just returning from the hospital, do yard work for the elderly, sew bags for elementary school students and compile hygiene kits for the Western Tidewater Free Clinic to hand out.

“This is just our way of giving back to the community,” said Cheryl Taylor, one of the volunteers.

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Operation Inasmuch is a national nonprofit that trains and equips churches to move their congregants out of the sanctuary and into the community. It takes its name from Matthew 25:40 from the Bible, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Members of the two churches decided to use the work day to replace their vacation Bible school, which they have traditionally held jointly.

Instead, members signed up for different work groups and donated items — knickknacks, games and clothes for the yard sale, material for the bags and more.

The yard sale items were priced particularly low so that people who needed items could afford them.

“A lot of baby clothes went,” said volunteer Lou Ventura. “People found things that they needed. That was important to us.”

Across town at West End, a team of five women sewed bags for Elephant’s Fork Elementary School. The school has a system of awarding points for good behavior, and students can spend their points in the school “store.” The bags, which are big enough to carry notebooks or folders, are a popular item.

“This is about letting the children know that somebody cares about them,” Taylor said. The team made more than 50 bags with old clothes and donated fabric.

“It’s been great,” Ventura said of the work day. “We had a wonderful time.”

Others teams picked up trash at local parks or fed quarters into machines at a local Laundromat.

For more information on the project, visit www.operationinasmuch.org.