Kindness in deed
Over 400 people spread to the ends of Cassville to perform acts of kindness on Sunday, Oct. 20, to improve the lives of those they encountered and offer badly needed support for others desperately in need.
Volunteers from approximately eight area churches began gathering at the American Legion Home by mid-morning to form teams and select their assignments from a list of pre-planned activities. There was a sense of knowing that each person was there to ignore their theological differences and focus on the central message of their faith -- namely love for others.
"I work a lot in the community, and this is just a way for us to get out and not just be in a church, but show the community what the church is really all about and what we can do to support other people," said David Hermann, who came with his wife, Becky, and foreign exchange student, Chang-Gyu Im, who is originally from South Korea.
Joe Casper, another volunteer, simply stated, "We're here to show love to the community -- to show everybody that they're loved."
T-shirts were provided to those who served with a message printed on the back proclaiming "The church has left the building." Many who worked that day felt this message was a crucial reason for why they volunteered.
"I think we're showing what churches are supposed to be doing -- getting out of our 'cubby hole' and pulling together as a community," said Annette Henderson and Bertie Bailey who helped clean roadways and ditches with teammates Megan Cox and Jo Anne Ellis.
Mitzi Starkweather came with a group of young people who enjoyed being a part of something that allowed them to work with friends who don't go to their particular church.
"I have friends in other churches, and I like that we're all getting together and giving back to the community," said Brooke Cornell, a member of Starkweather's team. "It's something we should definitely do more of -- interact with each other."
Starkweather noted the challenges faced in convincing others that being a part of this type of activity is something that is important -- and necessary.
"I think a lot of times we build up serving the community as too broad a term," said Starkweather. "When you actually go out and do it and get something assigned you complete the task and realize it's not that scary -- you just go out and do it and people appreciate it."
Nearly 50 project areas were identified with tasks ranging from pumping gas to replacing house siding. Volunteers also worked on landscaping and cleaning sand boxes at area schools. Trash was picked up, bleachers were painted, and flowerbeds were weeded in the city park and along the Greenway Trail. One school principal even baked and packaged 1,200 chocolate chip cookies. Nothing was too minor and everything was greatly appreciated.
I don't have enough words to say 'Thank you,'" said one recipient who asked to remain anonymous. "This is such a blessing that we would never have been able to do. What they've done for us -- thank you will never cover or express how much this means to me and my family."
James Weaver, pastor at the First Baptist Church and coordinator of the event, shared how teams were also assigned to simply drive though the community and ask if anyone needed help.
"I was talking to Dallas from The Point, and he said that they'd gone to a lady's house and she said, "'I'm so glad you came. I was hoping that someone would come by and help me out.'"
Volunteers even served to provide lunch for those who went out into the community. A simple event was planned following the lunch, which consisted of the praise team from Emmanuel Baptist Church leading those who gathered in worship. Bob Zamastil of Bonsai Creations then took the make shift stage and gave his testimony while trimming one of his plants.
When the event had ended, much work had been accomplished, but much more still needed to be done.
"The places that we targeted -- they were all touched," said Weaver. "We're going to need a subsequent day, and I'm hoping that people will be invested in the concept and [become] invested in some of these projects."
Weaver was encouraged by the strong turnout and plans to do another Kindness Day in the future. Others realized that this was just the beginning, and that a special event isn't always needed to make a difference.
"Hopefully, what will come out of this is that people will see that you don't have to just do it on certain days," said Andy Lambel, pastor of Cassville United Methodist Church who also serves on the Ministerial Council which sponsored this event. "If you see a need -- do it. Fill it."