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Churchs Mission Expo offers outreach, service to community
Office administrator Mayda Allen, second from right, Saturday shows volunteers the offices of the local Salvation Army. From left are Meghan Caldwell, Linda Spencer, Bette Noble, Allen and Jack Spencer. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Local organizations’ needs aren’t met just through financial means.

They also are met when people volunteer their time and service to help organizations meet community and individual needs.

On Saturday, First Presbyterian Church’s congregation and volunteers held their first Local Mission Expo. The expo acted as a service day, with many in the congregation going out to different organizations throughout the Hall County and Gainesville community to donate their time.

Their duties included painting, landscaping and taking tours of the organization’s facilities to see how it helps the community.

“Overall, it was a big hit,” said co-chair coordinator Jeremy Caldwell, who along with his wife, Meghan, organized Saturday’s events. Jeremy Caldwell offered yard work at Gainesville Action Ministries, which he said was “excited” to have the volunteers’ help.

“We had a blast. I think everyone who was involved had fun,” he said. “The Bible talks about how giving is where you find your true net worth, and Jesus gave a lot, and giving will help us find peace.

“When we can get involved in the community, it shows the worth.”

Caldwell said the First Presbyterian congregation has a target goal of completing 10,000 volunteer hours over the next year.

Gainesville/Hall Community Food Pantry co-directors and First Presbyterian members King and Yvonne Gore, said Saturday was a great way to expose the congregation and other volunteers to lesser-known organizations and charity programs.

“The expo is how people find out about us (the pantry),” King said. “You tend to think everyone knows everything, but they don’t.”

The food pantry helps feed those who can’t afford groceries. The food consists of items such as eggs, meat, cereal and canned goods supplied from various sources. King said if the number of people seeking help from the pantry continues to grow, he wants to make sure everyone gets food.

“When you open that door and you push the buggy out, and say ‘Mrs. Jones, here’s your groceries,’ and they look at you and say ‘Thank you. You don’t know how much this means to me.’ We get more out of it then they do,” King said. “Often, they will tell us their story about they just lost their job, or they have four kids at home and they don’t have any food, and we say ‘We’re glad to help you.’ That’s what it’s all about, helping somebody.

“The need continues to grow. I’m not here to question why it’s growing. If it grows, if people come here, I take care of (them). I don’t question why you’re here. We just try to help you.”

The Salvation Army was another place volunteers donated their time Saturday. Mayda Allen, office administrator of The Salvation Army, said the volunteers’ reaction to touring the facility was one of surprise.

“Today, they (the volunteers) were shocked at how nice the facility is,” she said. “The church just has to see (the facility) for themselves. ... I think it’s a great opportunity when they (the church) come out and they get to see exactly where their money goes, where their time is donated at, how much it impacts one family.”

She said any type of service is appreciated, including gardening, sprucing up the outside of the facility and sorting out canned foods.

“This has been an eye-opener for us,” said volunteer and First Presbyterian member Jack Spencer, who toured facility along with three others.

He said part of Saturday’s expo was to show the congregation how much time and effort goes into making all the different organizations run.

“We didn’t know what all went into these organizations,” he said. “Our (the church) goal is to not just have people reach in their pocket and donate money. Our goal is to do what Jesus did, and that’s serve.”

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