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January 31, 2019

“Calluses, sore back, warm heart and a good feeling”

It’s a great chance to get all our kids involved in the habit of making contributions outside of themselves. It seems more personal than donating money.
— J.D. Daunt
Wood Ministry
• Who: Grace Episcopal Church members and other volunteers.

• What: Split and deliver firewood to Northern Fauquier residents in need.

• When: Saturdays, usually twice a month, late October to late March.

• Households: 15 this season.

• Website: Click here.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Hauling, splitting and stacking, the Grace Episcopal Church “woodchucks” don’t seem to mind the cold or the residual piles of snow.

On a Saturday in mid-January, 15 volunteers from the church and Wakefield School gathered in The Plains to split firewood, toss it into pickup trucks and deliver the oldest form of home-heating fuel to citizens in need.

In its 15th year, the woodchucking represents part of Grace Church’s community service. Program co-director Paul Smith believes Grace has the county’s longest-running firewood ministry.

“Sometimes The Plains is (described as) a boutique area, but there’s a lot of poverty in the county,” Mr. Smith said.

He learns of those who need firewood through word of mouth, phone calls to the church and the county’s department of social services.

“We give the wood to people (in need) whose only source of heat is a woodstove or fireplace,” Mr. Smith explained.

He recalls many years ago delivering wood to an elderly gentleman who lived in a house with “plywood over the dirt floor, and he had a potbelly stove . . . . Those are humbling experiences, and anything we can do to give back to the community — it’s gratifying to do that.”

Volunteers this winter deliver wood on a rotating basis to about 15 houses near Delaplane, The Plains, Marshall, Rectortown and Upperville.

“A load will last about 10 days,” Mr. Smith said. “We try to stagger that . . . . I keep a chart of who gets wood . . . . If we have a very severe case of cold weather, that’s accelerated a bit.”

When needed, he will deliver wood during the week in addition to the regular Saturday schedule.

In 2017, the volunteers made 79 deliveries to 21 households in Northern Fauquier.

“Calluses, a sore back, a warm heart and a good feeling” rank among the rewards, volunteer Shane Pixton said.

Church member “J.D.” Daunt of Haymarket has volunteered with the wood ministry off and on since 2005, with his two sons and now his daughter, Jenna.

“It’s a great chance to get all our kids involved in the habit of making contributions outside of themselves,” Mr. Daunt said. “It seems more personal than donating money.

“It meets a very specific need. If you serve that need, they can use their money for something else.”

The volunteers split and deliver the fuel from late October to March, making sure they produce enough seasoned hardwood to go around.

“It’s kind of like you’re on treadmill, and we want to keep ahead of it,” Mr. Smith said.

Parishioners and other community members donate logs, which volunteers split on site or at a staging area near The Plains.

Grace Bible Church of Marshall also has a wood ministry that serves Northern Fauquier.

When Mr. Smith got involved with the program in 2004, volunteers would deliver firewood to some of the southernmost reaches in Fauquier.

But, St. James’ Episcopal Church and Warrenton Baptist in recent years have started a wood ministry that serves Southern Fauquier, he said.

“It’s really meaningful, because we are helping local people,” said 16-year-old Wakefield student Sarah Lang. “My teacher told me the worst thing is waking up in the morning cold . . . . It’s all about teamwork.”

Those who need wood, want to donate logs or wish to volunteer may call the Grace Church office at 540-253-5177.

Contact Cassandra Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-878-6007.
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