Church members provided hot meals for volunteers and victims from the Feb. 22 tornado that downed trees and destroyed buildings all along the Kingston Road area.
Chapel Hill UMC, located at 1818 Kingston Road, suffered extensive damage, said Pastor Ken Kulp.
“There’s a lot of damage that’s under control in this building, but a lot over there in the sanctuary that’s going to take a few weeks to get back in use. Probably months,” he said.
Kulp said church officials and congregation members at last Sunday’s worship service felt a call to reach out to other victims who are slowly picking up the pieces.
“We just kind of felt that the Lord would have us reach out to the community, because we know how it feels ourselves,” said Kulp. “There’s a lot of folks out here that really got hurt badly. So we said, ‘Lets have a party.’”
Linda Smith, chair of the board of trustees, said the church hoped victims would take advantage of the food and fellowship being offered by Chapel Hill UMC.
“We felt like it would be a good place for us to invite them to come in, because who knows? Some of them may not have their kitchens back up, or they’re just in need of food,” she said. “We felt like it was something we could share and also thankfulness for the lives that were spared.”
Along with United Methodist Church of Rome, church members prepared chili, vegetable soup, baked potato soup, taco soup, Brunswick stew, as well as pigs in a blanket and an assortment of desserts.
Local Girl Scouts Makenna Smith, 13, Alix Devine, 13, and Alyssa Watrous, 14, from troop 7241, provided free Girl Scout cookies to victims.
Michael and Susan Cox with their grandson, Jeremy Orne, were among those tornado victims that came to Chapel Hill UMC.
After losing their home, Susan Cox said the community has been great at helping her family move on after the storms.
“The Red Cross put us up and another church gave us a (hotel) room for four nights. The school counselors where my grandson goes to school are trying to help us get housing,” said Cox. “We have people trying to help us.”
Chapel Hill UMC’s Ash Wednesday service ended a mere two hours before the tornado struck the church, said Kulp.
The small group also paused for a moment of silent prayer in remembrance of Barbara Washington, who died of a storm-related heart attack Feb. 22. Kulp emphasized that this was a time to be grateful.
“We felt like it would be good for the folks to come and share their experiences around the table, it’s therapeutic,” he said. “It’s a time for giving God thanks for our survival.”