Offering a helping hand

Walking around Shields Park in Seymour on Saturday afternoon, groups of adults and children knocked on people’s doors.

They weren’t trying to sell anything, and they weren’t asking for donations. In fact, just the opposite. They wanted to help anyone in need.

Each person participating in the fifth annual Thousand Ten Project contributed $10. With 10 people on a team, that amounted to $100 per team to reach out and love thy neighbor, said Pastor Rick Wilson of The Alley.

Whether it was an elderly resident who didn’t have enough money to buy groceries or a young couple behind on paying their utilities, the purpose of Thousand Ten is not to judge people for the situation they’re in, but to show compassion and understanding, Wilson added.

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“We’ve all been down at some point in our lives and could have used a helping hand,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing today.”

The event is organized by The Alley with participation from several area churches, including Seymour Christian Church, Seymour Harvest Church, Freetown Church of Christ, Brownstown Christian Church and Cornerstone Community Church.

Barbie Huber of Brownstown said she got involved with Thousand Ten when it first started as a way to help people. This year, she brought two of her children and her niece.

“It’s a blessing,” she said. “You learn how fortunate you are. There are so many people out there with so many more challenges than we have.”

Last year, her group from Brownstown Christian Church helped buy groceries, put gas in people’s cars and even replaced an elderly woman’s bathroom floor that was falling in.

This year, they were able to mow a yard for a disabled resident and helped a young woman catch up her electric bill so it wouldn’t be shut off.

The young woman, pregnant with her first child, thanked the volunteers and said she thought what they were doing was “amazing.”

Besides paying her electric bill, they also gave her a mattress for her stepdaughter’s new loft bed and new pink sheets that matched the room perfectly.

Before leaving, the group held hands with the young woman and prayed for her, her unborn child and her family.

Kris McKinney, her husband Ben and their children, also of Brownstown, said being a part of Thousand Ten is “life changing.”

“It really opens up your eyes and lets you see how lucky we are,” she said. “We take so much for granted.”

John McCrary of Brownstown said after volunteering last year, he was “hooked.”

“Their eyes light up when you tell them you want to help,” he said. “I love doing this. It makes you feel good.”

In many cases, volunteers donated more than $10 and sometimes, those that were asked if they needed help ended up contributing money instead.

But accepting help can be difficult and not everyone is ready, Huber said.

Many doors went unanswered Saturday, and sometimes the groups were turned away.

It was the first time Doug McClure of Brownstown participated in the event, but it won’t be the last, he said. McClure said he was touched by the willingness of people to come together to help others and by those who needed help.

“You hope to bless someone else, but you end up finding out that the person who is blessed is you,” he said.

Being a longtime principal in Seymour and now at Brownstown Central Middle School, McClure said he’s comfortable in the school and teaching business.

“But going door to door, it pushes your comfort zone because you don’t know what’s going to be on the other side of the door,” he said.

“You don’t know how you are going to be received. But at the same time, you can actually make a difference, immediately, in someone’s life.”

The number of people volunteering this year was lower than past years, but Wilson said he isn’t discouraged.

The goal has always been to have 1,000 volunteers, but that hasn’t happened yet, Wilson said.

“There’s a lot of good that is going on out there today,” he said. “We’re helping a whole lot of people.”

Besides helping others, Wilson said the event also shows people the kind of lives believers should be living on a regular basis, not just for one day.

“Sometimes we forget what our responsibilities are as a church and as a people,” he said. “We forget about the needs that are out there.”