Churches do community service
Published 10:09 pm Saturday, July 26, 2014
Two downtown churches partnered on a variety of public service projects on Saturday.
Operation Inasmuch, a national nonprofit that encourages churches to do community service, has seen Suffolk Presbyterian and West End Baptist churches cooperate on a number of projects during the last several years.
Projects on Saturday included binding materials for the Book Buddies program at West End, a 25-cent yard sale at Suffolk Presbyterian that will benefit the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia’s backpack program at Booker T. Washington and Elephant’s Fork elementary schools, and volunteers who cleaned up and recorded gravesites at Oaklawn Cemetery.
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The churches have sent a team to the cemetery each year since they started the program. Cindy Robinson, part of this year’s cemetery team, said they are almost finished recording the gravesites.
“We’re committed to finishing it, because I feel like they shouldn’t be forgotten,” she said of the historic cemetery near Market Street, which holds mostly early graves of black Suffolkians. “This is a part of Suffolk history that needs to be remembered.”
The condition of the cemetery — with many gravestones toppled over, broken, worn down or buried — made it slow going, Robinson said.
“If there’s any evidence there’s a grave there, we try our very best to dig it out so we can record it,” she said. The cemetery features many cement vaults, some of which have been covered up over the years. Other gravestones are so worn away that the volunteers had to take rubbings of the stones to read them.
Over at Suffolk Presbyterian, the yard sale brought in more than $500 to support the backpack program, which sends food home with hungry kids on the weekends.
Many people were surprised when they found out the items were only 25 cents, Maryanne Persons said.
On Friday, a group that worked in advance to create quilts delivered them to a wounded soldiers’ group. Sunday, the churches planned joint worship at Suffolk Presbyterian, led by West End pastor Dr. Bob Pipkin.