In recent years, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has become known as “A day on, not a day off,” encouraging people to spend the day volunteering in the community.
The Children’s Village at Christian City felt the love Monday as many volunteers showed up to do landscaping work and to stock the ministry’s new food storage facility.
The Children’s Village is a safe haven for children who have been abused, neglected, and abandoned, providing short-term and long-term accommodation and care for children between five and 17 years of age. Children are placed into “cottages” with up to seven other children of the same gender, and full-time foster parents look after them, making sure they keep up with schoolwork, are fed well, and over time are prepared for independent living as adults.
On the grounds of The Children’s Village on Monday, Georgia Power employees, including Metering Services Department Support Specialist Keron Davis, helped lay sod and pine straw and to plant trees and shrubs in a central park area of the campus. She said her team consisted of about 30 people, including corporate, regional, and even parent company (Southern Company) employees, some of whom brought their own children to help out.
“We want to give back to the community,” Davis said.
Also on the landscaping volunteer team were more than a dozen eighth graders representing Woodstock City Church, which is affiliated with Alpharetta-based North Point Community Church. Small group leader Richard Kirkland said he had never seen The Children’s Village before Monday, but he and the young workers he brought with him were well impressed with the facility.
“This is an amazing place,” Kirkland said.
Flintwood Farms pitched in Monday, too. Actually, the Fayette County-based “grower of seasonal color” has been volunteering with The Children’s Village for some time, and Julie Thames, one of the owners, created the landscape design plan. Thames was on site Monday helping facilitate the planting and strawing.
Thames, a lifelong Fayette resident, said she has known about Christian City as long as she can remember, but it has only been recently that she learned more about The Children’s Village and their work with young people.
“I think these kids are lucky to have a place like this to come to, a place that gives them hope,” Thames said.
Just a few hundred feet away, The Children’s Village’s new food storage facility was being stocked with free food and household products courtesy of Peachtree City-based Midwest Food Bank. Everything from paper products to vegetables, breakfast cereals, and even chocolate bars was offloaded from a Midwest Food Bank truck and stacked neatly on custom-built shelving inside the climate-controlled building.
Founded on a McLean County, Illinois farm in 2003, Midwest Food Bank is a faith-based charity that receives, stores, and distributes food for other non-profit agencies that minister to people by providing food and other household provisions. The Peachtree City location was opened in 2011 and now serves well over 200 agencies a month by giving them completely free provisions.
“This is just the beginning,” said Midwest Food Bank Executive Director Will Garner after helping put the products on shelves and in the giant, walk-in freezer. “It’s a good start.”
Garner was perhaps being modest, but Christian City Chief Operating Officer Philip Kouns, who looks after The Children’s Village, says Monday’s contribution by Midwest Food Bank is a blessing almost beyond words.
“It’s a huge blessing,” Kouns said. “This is a lot of staples our folks have to pay cash for. This helps save us a tremendous amount of money. This is just incredible.”
In his brief remarks Monday, Garner noted that the ministry of Midwest Food Bank is really as simple as passing blessings along to other people, and Kouns said that’s the same thing they do at The Children’s Village. And that’s why he had the young residents actually attend the pantry stocking event, to see and meet some of the people from the community who are extending Christ-like love to them.
“People are taking care of them, and when they get older, hopefully they will be people who take care of others, too,” Kouns said.
Todd Colie, who with his wife Dana serve as foster parents at one of the cottages, said Monday was a blessing, not just to have the free provisions, but to now have them so close to hand at the new food storage facility.
“At the cottage, we have limited storage space, but we have a whole lot of people who eat,” he laughed. “It’s a huge blessing to have this facility so close by now.”
Christian City Volunteer Coordinator Connie Hall said she was pleased that, despite the cold weather, Monday’s volunteer event went well.
“It was a very productive morning,” Hall said.
Hall also said if other individuals or groups would like to volunteer at Christian City, whether with senior citizens, The Children’s Village, or elsewhere on the campus, she can be reached at 770-703-2701. She said there are not a lot of outdoor projects at the moment because of the weather, but she said there are indoor opportunities available, including the boxing up of Senior Library books to make way for renovation.
Learn more about Christian City and The Children’s Village at www.ChristianCity.org.