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Posted: July 3, 2017 4:23 p.m.
Updated: July 4, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Jim Tatum/C-I

The home of Eric Jackson and Sabrina Aldrich-Jackson, one of four Kershaw County homes repaired by Salkiehatchie volunteers this year.

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Summer in Kershaw County can mean many things.

For a group of volunteers from Lyttleton Street United Methodist Church’s Salkiehatchie-Wateree Camp, it meant spending a week doing repairs and renovations on homes in dire need out in the community.

Around 60 youth volunteers and their adult supervisors recently worked on four homes in Kershaw County, including Eric Jackson and Sabrina Aldrich-Jackson’s home on Land Street in Camden. The house, built in the early 1920s and owned by Aldrich-Jackson’s grandfather, Wesley Aldrich, was in need of a number of repairs, including roof repairs, floor work and a complete bathroom renovation. 

“These people are great -- they need a reality television show!” Sabrina Aldrich-Jackson said.

More specifically, she said, the group has done a lot of very good and much needed work in a short amount of time with nothing but the best of loving attitudes and giving hearts. In fact, she wants to volunteer in the future not only to learn new skills but to pay the love forward, she said.

“What these kids, these volunteers have done is simply amazing,” Aldrich said. “I was just hoping to get the roof repaired -- I wasn’t expecting all this. They have been a real blessing. More churches need to do this.”

Aldrich and her husband moved into the home several years ago, not long after her grandfather passed away. 

For those who participate in the camp, the week spent doing construction work in the heat of the South Carolina summer is about far more than just physical labor and sweat. It’s a way to connect with each other, with the community, with the better sides of themselves, and with the love of God.

Jake Cooper has been involved with Salkiehatchie for nearly 15 years, starting when he was a teenager. He now is in the construction business himself, and credits his involvement with the ministry not only for his continued dedication to Salkiehatchie but his decision to go into the construction field. To help others is a good feeling, but it goes even beyond that, he said. It has to do with building bridges in the community from a place of love, understanding, and gratitude.

“It’s the homeowners that keep me coming back,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to know you’ve done something that will help people for a long time.”

For newbie Olivia Giles, 13, this was her first experience with Salkiehatchie. From learning new skills to finding a way to give back, she said she loved the entire experience and will continue to do it.

Salkiehatchie-Wateree camp, founded in 1990 in Kershaw County by Richard and Sarah Hagin, is part of the statewide Salkiehatchie annual summer service mission coordinated through the S.C. United Methodist Church. Salkiehatchie-Wateree, which serves the Kershaw County area, is coordinated through Lyttleton Street United Methodist Church. Some 50 volunteers, more than half of whom are teens and young adults between the ages of 13 and 23 worked on five homes in dire need of major repairs.

The church organizes volunteers, many of whom are youth from other parts of the state -- and the country -- to do the work. The volunteers undergo thorough training classes on safety as well as tools and techniques before they ever arrive on a work site and like any other job, they take on more responsibility and perform more complicated work as they gain experience. There are at minimum two adult volunteers at each job site; most of the work crews consist of between 15-20 youth volunteers and their adult mentors.

The ministry is also is supported by the communities in which it is conducted, Salkiehatchie coordinators noted. Here in Camden, the community has been very supportive, from businesses such as Haier, Camden Builders Supply, Miller Lumber Company, Duke Power, and Lowes to area churches, organizations and individuals who provide meals and other services, to individuals who donate.

Richard Hagin retired as the chair of the Kershaw County Salkiehatchie Camp; this year the effort was led by Amy Pope, Ellen Smith and Dennis Turner.


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