Church volunteers serve Suffolk

Published 8:22 pm Monday, August 6, 2018

An annual partnership between several Suffolk churches is once again giving back to the community in Suffolk’s fifth annual Serve the City.

Volunteers from five different churches will provide makeovers to seven of Suffolk’s public schools this week, according to the Serve the City Suffolk Facebook page.

More than a half-dozen volunteers were at Booker T. Washington Elementary School on Monday for landscaping the school’s 7,091 square foot courtyard space. They worked in the heat and humidity to pull weeds, edge garden beds, cut branches and clear trash and debris.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s great just being out here serving the community, building relationships and sharing the love of God however we can,” said Open Door Church member Jenna Carroll, who sweated alongside Southside Baptist Church volunteers at the school on Monday morning.

The courtyard has five raised, 6-by-25-foot garden beds with sweet potatoes, pumpkins, blueberries, sunflowers and other vibrantly colorful crops, according to an email from Jennifer Owens, Title I reading specialist and courtyard coordinator at Booker T. Washington Elementary.

Owens explained how the courtyard is used for classes during the school year for the children to appreciate growing their own vegetables and as a stress-reliever for students and staff that want fresh air in a green place.

“(Booker T. Washington) is very grateful for the blessing that the Serve the City project is giving in our efforts to beautify our school,” Principal Chanel Woods wrote in an email. “We also want to say thank you to Knotts Creek Nursery for donating plants and flowers to add to our front landscaping.”

This year’s volunteerism kicked off at the Southside Baptist Church’s Sunday evening service. There are approximately 120 volunteers this year between Southside Baptist Church, Liberty Springs Christian Church, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Open Door Church and a group visiting from Summit Church in New Jersey, according to Terry Violette, director of Serve the City Suffolk and a Southside Baptist Church member.

Schools will be landscaped, painted or otherwise renovated for about six hours each day. A team of volunteers will also hold Vacation Bible School at Peanut Park from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Violette said they will improve the residence of a disabled veteran’s home in Suffolk, and lunches will be delivered to workers as well as first responders, teachers and others. Another one of their active outreach projects this week is collecting plastic grocery bags to make bedrolls for the homeless.

“We cut the bags up and make plastic yarn out of the bags,” he said, with ongoing bag collections that started months ago. “We’ve got so many plastic bags you wouldn’t believe.”

He said the event’s expanding scope in the past five years has been “amazing.”

“It’s even more amazing to partner with other churches here in our city for one cause, and that’s to love our neighbors and our community while asking for nothing in return,” he said.

Serve the City will conclude with a party at Peanut Park from noon to 2 p.m. this Friday. There will be free hot dogs, chips and drinks along with plenty of games. Visit for more information.