On Sunday, May 5, the congregation didn’t show up for weekly morning services at River Ridge Church Teays Valley at 1 Saturn Way in Hurricane.
While they weren’t under one roof that particular morning as usual, they were serving, nonetheless, with open hearts and busy hands.
The day was earmarked as River Ridge’s annual The Church Has Left the Building “For the Valley” event, in which hundreds of members from the Teays Valley and Charleston campuses spent several hours (nearly 3,500 man-hours total), instead, volunteering their worship time by working on community beautification projects around the region.
“We had over 1,100 people who participated,” River Ridge Teays Valley Connections Pastor Tim Minturn said. “They worked on 71 projects at both our Teays Valley and Charleston campuses.”
Minturn said this was the sixth year the River Ridge churches have conducted the CLB community projects.
“We started planning in February,” he said. “We contact some organizations, some organizations contact us and some of our project managers will find projects for us.
“Our project managers are who make the Church Has Left the Building happen. They’re the ones who make it go and the ones who make it go smoothly. They really do the lion’s share of the work, to make it easy for other people to jump in and serve,” Minturn said.
The volunteer CLB tasks the Teays Valley congregation undertook and pitched in their skills and labor for during the day included:
• Barboursville Middle School: painting and landscaping
• Buffalo Elementary School: landscaping
• Buffalo High School: landscaping
• Cabell Midland High School: FUSE and family project
• Conner Street Elementary School, painting
• George Washington Elementary School: landscaping, mulching
• Hurricane Town Elementary School: landscaping
• Martha Elementary School: pressure washing and staining playground benches and tables
• Nichols Elementary School: walking track and playground cleanup and painting, adding new gravel and trim
• Nitro High School: cleanup
• Poca Elementary School: playground mulching
• Poca High School: Building a wheelchair ramp and replacing landscaping timbers at the Cultural Center and track
• Poca Middle School: landscaping
• Scott Teays Elementary School: painting playground equipment
• West Teays Elementary School: painting maps on pavement, staining picnic tables
• Winfield Middle School: landscaping
• Barboursville Little League: Setting new posts to construct a wall, landscaping
• Branches House: cleanup, landscaping
• Camp Appalachia: bunk bed assembly, fence painting, hiking trail cleanup, construction of a wood storage shed
• Children’s Home Society, Huntington: cleanup and painting
• Golden Girls Group Home: painting, landscaping and cleaning
• Howell’s Mill Christian Assembly: cleaning
• Huntington City Mission: moving storage shelves
• Hurricane City Park: painting
• James H. Tiger Morton Juvenile Center: improvements to the recreation area
• Cross Lanes Kroger Food Drive, collecting food for Poca Elementary School summer backpacks
• Lily’s Place: landscaping
• Litchfield House: cleaning, yard work, pressure washing
• Milton Little League: cleaning, painting and repairing bleachers
• Putnam County Fairgrounds: cleanup, including pressure washing, painting barns
• Rebuild: Demolition, carpentry, drywall, duct work, landscaping, scraping, painting and organizing the clothing pantry
• Ronald McDonald House: painting, organizing pantries, cooking meals and staining gazebos
• Valley Park: landscaping and painting playground equipment.
The endeavor wasn’t entirely an adults only enterprise. Many of the volunteer projects incorporated the younger members of the church. At the church, CLB Littles, ages 2 to 5, were supervised for a serving project designed just for them. They received a brief lesson about childhood hunger and then filled Backpack Blessings backpacks for children who attend the Second Avenue Center in Charleston.