When community lends a hand

Volunteers who made the truck-loading possible at Grace Community Church at Bigelow in Portsmouth for National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child.

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas held recently at Grace Community Church at Bigelow in Portsmouth.

Grace Community Church at Bigelow (GCCB), 415 Washington Street in Portsmouth experienced “grace” first hand during National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child, according to Susan Horr, member of GCCB.

“That time is called Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week, and that occurred this year from the November 14th through the 21st,” Horr said. “When the shoe boxes come in that is when individuals and churches and organizations bring their shoe boxes into our church, which is Grace Community, and we’re called a drop-off center. So shoe boxes are brought there and dropped off, and I have volunteers who help put them in cartons, and then we take them from the cartons to what’s called a collection center. Then they put them onto semis and they ship them out, it is just another phase of the process.”

As the number in cartons increased, so did the need for more help to load them onto the semis.

“On Wednesday, I had 32 cartons. On Thursday, more shoe boxes came in. By 3 p.m. on Thursday I had 73 cartons. Now that’s not shoe boxes, that’s cartons,” Horr said. “The truck that I had was only going to be able to hold about 75, so I knew that I had to get the cartons to the collection center. All of us who work there are generally women, and a few men. I started calling various places in the community, and thought I might get some help, get some men to come and help load the truck. The truck had to be loaded by 4:30 p.m. that day.I started thinking about the younger men in our church, but the work. Then I started thinking about the older men, but I couldn’t ask men in their 60’s and 7o’s to load 73 cartons, because they have to be carried out by hand.”

Horr said her first thought was to pray for a solution.

“I got the volunteers together, and we began to pray. I said, Lord you know that I have to get these up there because the truck that I use is used at our stores, so it has to be empty, so that they can be ready for use the next day. I began to think that right up the street is a gym, Iron Body Fitness, and our pastor used to work out there, so I thought I’d go up there and see if there were any men working out that would come down to our church and help,” Horr said. “So I went up there, and there was only a few people at the time, and two men said they would come down, and I thanked them.”

Horr said she had also been advised to talk to Seth Yothers at the local Recruiting Center in Portsmouth.

“I was able to finally connect with Seth, and he told me that he was familiar with Operation Christmas Child, and I told him that I need a few good men,” Horr said. “I told them that I needed to load the truck at 4:30 so that it could take off for South Point.”

Once she finally met up with Yothers, he agreed to not only help, but to bring 15 other people with him.

“It just so happens that on Thursday, I have 15 men and young women that come,” Yothers said. “I will be down at your church at 4:30 and we will load your truck for you, and then we will continue on our run.”

Horr said she was overjoyed by the willingness of Yothers to come and bring and host of other volunteers to get the job done.

“I said, God you are so amazing with your perfect timing,” Horr said. “They came, and loaded the truck, and then then they went on their way, and I went on my way. I don’t know why I am always so surprised when I see God work the way he works, I love it. We have no idea how things are going to be done, but God said he will direct our paths if we trust in him. I had a path to walk. I had no idea what that path was, and how it was going to look, but God provided for us. I am so grateful to Seth, and all of those that came and made this possible.”

Reach Portia Williams at 740-464-3862, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.