They sorted food. They visited nursing homes. They weeded flower beds. They washed cars. And that’s just a few of the mission projects completed by Hoosier United Methodists on the second annual Day of Outreach during annual conference sessions.

More than 630 participants and 150 local volunteer coordinators spread out across Muncie, partnering with social service agencies, local churches, community organizations and businesses.

Rick and Amy Hartig of Stewartsville UMC in Posey County participated in this day last year and this year brought their two daughters, Ashley, 10 and Maddie, 9.

Volunteers board a bus to go to one of the launch sites for the Day of Outreach.

“I’m helping people who need food by doing this,” said Maddie, between counting out six packages of food and handing them to her mom at Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. “This is my favorite thing to do.”

Cheryl Britt of Roanoke Seminary UMC signed up because she thought it would be interesting. A previous church she attended had a food pantry and Roanoke Seminary helps their local food pantry. “This will give me some inspiration,” said Britt, who will take the information and see how her church’s youth group could help out more with their local food pantry.

According to Tony Baarsma of Second Harvest Food Bank, more than 100 volunteers helped sort out food.  The food bank helps between 400 to 800 families each week, depending on which location they deliver food.

In downtown Muncie at the Hoosier Heartland chapter of the American Red Cross, volunteers assembled comfort kits that would be distributed to people displaced by house fires. The volunteers even brought items for these comfort kits, which include personal hygiene items. Several weeks ago, the Red Cross responded to 11 house fires in the seven county area they serve. “It’s very neat for others to come in and help fill the need,” said Eva Hall, a volunteer with the American Red Cross.

The Rev. Nancy Richmond of Attica First UMC, said, “We reach out and help others. Church is a verb. This is one of the things we can do.” Richmond added that her church has been serving a free community meal on Thursdays and maybe a similar comfort kit for the residents is something they could do.

A United Methodist volunteer cleans out a flower bed during the Day of Outreach on June 12.
Just down the street from the Red Cross, Dick and Priscilla Campbell of Newburgh UMC and Rev. Gary and Rev. Sandy Cooper of New Albany Main Street UMC and Depauw Memorial UMC, respectively, and Rev. Tim Johnson of Pfrimmer’s Chapel, were picking up trash and having a prayer walk and praying and talking with people walking down the street. “We’re still making a difference,” said Priscilla Campbell.

Bob Brake of Selma UMC was coordinating some of the work being done at Christian Ministries of Delaware County by 20 volunteers. The homeless shelter can house 17 homeless men and two apartments for families and is supported by more than 26 area churches. “Our small group cooks dinner for them,” said Brake.

Volunteers pick up trash in a Muncie neighborhood during the Day of Outreach.
Brake was overseeing 20 volunteers pulling up carpet, painting rooms, replacing ceiling tiles, general cleaning, sorting and counting canned foods and more. The Rev. Wendy Canon of Economy/Greens Fork UMC was counting canned foods.

“This is what God calls us to do to help others who need help,” said Canon. “What a blessing it is to do this. We’re doing something to help the community and individuals.

A few blocks away at Blood and Fire, 15-year-old Allyson Oakman of Terre Haute Northside Community UMC, helped set up a sidewalk sale in the second-hand store. “It makes me think of how privileged we are and how some people aren’t,” said Oakman.”It’s a wake-up call.” When she returns to Terre Haute, Oakman is hoping to start something and learn more about poverty issues and how to address these issues.

On the other side of Blood and Fire, which is a community organization dedicated to helping the poor in Muncie’s downtown neighborhoods, is a community center where more volunteers were cleaning its community center, baking cookies for an after-school program, mowing grass and cleaning flowerbeds. Jessica Vogel of Blood and Fire was grateful for the volunteers. “Everything we do is volunteer-based,” said Vogel. “We are getting a lot done in one day, especially as we’re about going into the community.”

Michelle Grant of Indianapolis Wesley UMC was baking cookies and counting pretzels in the overly warm kitchen at the community center. “I like doing service projects,” said Grant. “It’s always an enjoyable experience.”

Another service project grabbed the call of several other youth and young adults at the Muncie Mission on South Liberty Street. They were dancing and singing throughout the afternoon as they washed the mission’s three large vans and box truck. Emily Lumpkin of Modoc Rehobath UMC, Jack Stringer of Fort Wayne St. Joseph’s UMC, Megan Wright of Fort Wayne Robinson Chapel UMC, Kaylee Stoops of Monroe UMC and Casey Madsen of Odon Cornettsville UMC were dancing with several adults the Holy Ghost Shuffle.

“We’re still making a difference.”

– Priscilla Campbell