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North Jefferson Assoc. churches collect itemscomment (0)

June 14, 2012

"It just happened.”

Mark Harrison, executive pastor of Gardendale First Baptist Church in North Jefferson Baptist Association, said that is how the church came to operate a distribution center 12 hours a day for 28 days following the April 2011 tornadoes.

“We just got together as a church” and decided to do something, Harrison said.

People gathered supplies and took them to the church’s south campus, where its family life center is located.

Gardendale First Baptist rented four trucks, loaded them with donated items and sent them into hard-hit areas. Such areas included Cullman, Hartselle, Dora, Sipsey, Pleasant Grove, Hackleburg, Phil Campbell, Hanceville and Smithville.

Then the unexpected occurred at First Baptist Church, Mount Olive, in North Jefferson Association after members decided to collect items for storm-impacted areas.

“We started out [with] an in-church collection,” explained Scott Harmon, minister of education and administration for First, Mount Olive.

But after the first day of the ingathering, an 18-wheeler full of items pulled into the church parking lot.

“We didn’t solicit it,” Harmon noted. “God just sent us a truck!”

Harmon said a radio station in Birmingham announced that the church needed assistance to unload the truck and strangers just showed up to help.

The items accumulated were then distributed to Pleasant Grove, Cullman and other places.

First, Mount Olive, has a connection with St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, Pratt City, where some supplies were taken to be distributed in the community. St. Luke Missionary Baptist also informed First, Mount Olive, of other needs in the community.

Both churches — Gardendale First and First, Mount Olive — assisted their communities in other ways.

Harrison said Gardendale First partnered with Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Iron Man Ministries and the Red Cross to get water, snacks and supplies into areas.

For several days, Gardendale First provided meals to a Smithville nursing home that was without electricity.

Harrison said helpers from the church also assisted in cleanup in Fultondale, Pleasant Grove, Argo, Cullman and Smithville.

Volunteers from First, Mount Olive, completed chain saw and cleanup tasks in Pratt City and McDonald’s Chapel. Harmon said a few members returned to Pratt City several times to work on their own.

In June, some members of Gardendale First will team with Builders for Christ to rebuild Mountain View Baptist Church, Phil Campbell, in Franklin Baptist Association. Another team will possibly go in September.  


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