PALMETTO -- More than 400 members of First Baptist Church of Palmetto pooled their skills, talents and time Feb. 27 in Operation Inasmuch as part of a national outreach initiative.
John Daugherty, Operation Inasmuch executive director, estimates the value of the labor donated in Palmetto and Bradenton at $36,000.
Volunteers fanned the greater Palmetto area to serve in more than 25 projects ranging from landscaping and painting to paying and praying at four laundromats, according to a press release.
Palmetto volunteers joined 2,000 churches in 22 states and three countries in what participants call "the compassion revolution."
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Nationally, events have generated millions of dollars in free labor to communities, according to the release.
Delton and Marcia Haynes, active in Operation Inasmuch for years, brought the program to First Baptist Church.
"Marcia and I had a heart for missions for many, many years," Haynes stated in the release.
When he met David Crocker, who founded Operation Inasmuch in 1995, Haynes said knew he wanted to bring the program to Manatee County. He facilitated his first event in 2010 through a Bradenton church.
"Our primary goal is to
get people out of the pew and serving," Haynes said in the release. "Once they do it, they'll be hooked."
He said he gave two instructions in the crowded church gym before groups left for their specific projects: "Remember who you are representing today. It isn't the church. It isn't me. It isn't the pastors.
"And be ready to share your faith, but also be ready to give a defense of your faith."
Haynes said the project leading to the most discussion was laundry assistance. Teams went to four businesses armed with quarters, and surprised those who were there by plugging coins into the washers and dryers.
While people waited for their clothes, there was an opportunity to discuss faith and distribute Bibles and discussion guides.
The teams served several nonprofit organizations in need of building maintenance or landscaping, put mulch down in public areas, sewed and distributed comfort bags to seafarers at Anchor House mission, held a free yard sale in Palmetto, wrote cards to first responders and soldiers, collected food at local grocery stores, gave free car checkups to widows and single mothers and held a blood drive.
Haynes said the church plans another outreach next year and he hopes to double the number of volunteers and projects.