2018-03-22 / Front Page

Nonprofit Gears Up For Another Year Of Doing Good

Hands & Feet of Hope youth volunteers better community
By Cassidy Pittman

Last year’s Hands and Feet of Hope campers learned construction and kindness as they helped erect a new house for a family that lost their old one in a fire. Last year’s Hands and Feet of Hope campers learned construction and kindness as they helped erect a new house for a family that lost their old one in a fire. Feeling blessed to be celebrating a fifth year of charitable work, Hands & Feet of Hope (HFOH) founder Jeremy Fletcher and the nonprofit’s 12 staff members are getting ready to collect donations for this year’s summer mission camp.

Fletcher, who has several years of experience under his belt as a youth mission organizer, says the idea for HFOH came to him while he was working on a mission in New York in 2013. His group was there to do clean up after a storm hit, and it was during this mission that he realized there were many similar cleanup projects that needed to be done in his home county. He credits HFOH and the idea to God and hopes that the nonprofit continues to grow and do good for the community of Fulton County.

After its founding year in 2014, HFOH became a weeklong summer mission experience for local teens and adults to make Fulton County a little kinder and a little brighter. During the second week of June, youths from all over Fulton County come to the camp to take on construction projects in the community. During their weeklong stay at the camp, youth and adult volunteers learn and perform skills such as safety repairs, fixing water damage, building handicap-accessibility projects both inside and outside, building and fixing roofs, doing yardwork, painting, and many other related projects. These projects are mostly completed for county senior citizens and those unable to afford or do the work themselves.

Since the organization is a nonprofit and is operated 100 percent by volunteers, HFOH relies completely on donations and the fundraising efforts of the community. Because of the generosity of several county churches, along with local businesses and good citizens, HFOH can take seven to nine requests for their summer camp projects. Campers are split into groups of five or six and each group is given a project that will better the community.

The first year HFOH was organized it received and completed seven projects during the week of camp. By the second year, 19 requests came in, and by the third, the nonprofit had become so successful that it received more than 30 requests to help rebuild the community in some way. Due to the overwhelming need, HFOH had to create an application so that it can base the yearly projects on need. Last year’s project was to build an entire new house for a family that lost their home in a fire. The project started the week of camp but continued for six months. It was completed just two days before Christmas and is considered a point of pride for the nonprofit.

The overnight summer camp, which is located at the United Methodist Church in Mc- Connellsburg, is for youths ranging from 6th to 12th grade. The Sunday school rooms are used as bunks, and the campers are provided with meals and amenities just like any other sleepover camp. When they are not working on a building project with their volunteer group leaders, Kelli Miller, the church’s youth director, organizes fun activities for them such as afternoon trips to Cowans Gap, arts and crafts, and Bible school activities. There is also a gym in the church that the campers can use for activities. Any youth within the age group is welcome to stay at the camp for a $50 fee that covers their stay and meals throughout the week. There are scholarships available upon request.

Adults who are willing to volunteer time and skills are also welcome to help during camp work hours, which are generally between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Help is also needed in advance to compile projects being considered, make site visits, create material lists, and assist in securing donations. The week of the mission, volunteers will assemble early Sunday afternoon to assist in the preparations for the campers. They will arrive later the same afternoon and leave the following Saturday morning.

For youths wanting to participate in the camp, an application must be completed and mailed, along with the $50 fee, to Mc- Connellsburg United Methodist Church, 121 N. Second St., Mc- Connellsburg, by April 30. If anyone has questions about volunteering or donating, call 717-485-4815, Ext. 205.

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