Nora Stout lugged an armful of splintered wood to a small pile in the backyard of a North Augusta home, then stopped to wipe the sweat from her brow.
The work was difficult and the hours were long, but the 14-year-old didn’t have any complaints. This is what she signed up for.
Nora made the trip from Atlanta to lend a helping hand in Grace United Methodist Church’s first Summer Salkehatchie Service camp. After working all day Monday on the Old Edgefield Road home, Nora was still enthusiastic.
“To come here, step out of my comfort zone and try new things and to be able to help someone who needs our help, I think that’s really important,” she said. “It’s a little difficult, but I like it.”
The camp is one of more than 50 that the Salkehatchie Summer Service puts on across South Carolina. Campers include high school and college-age students.
Through Friday, campers will call Grace United Methodist their home while they work on three North Augusta houses. Teams of eight to nine campers will work from 7 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. each day, weather permitting.
As part of an all-girl team, Nora helped to repair rotting wood on a back porch while other members tore off roof shingles. The team spent time with the homeowners Sunday before beginning the project.
“(The families) are the primary concern of this ministry,” said Caroline Dennis, one of the project leaders. “It doesn’t cost them anything. The only thing they need is to have enough faith to let us do this to their houses.”
Less than two miles away, a second crew toiled away in Viola Hammond’s kitchen. Furniture crowded the living room as campers painted cabinets and replaced the linoleum flooring.
The Seaborn Drive home, which had been repaired by Grace United Methodist’s Weatherization and Repair Ministry in January, was the perfect candidate for the service camp project, co-director Bobby Oliver said.
“The criteria for a Salkehatchie house is a house that we can work on that needs repairs and will take at least five days to do the repairs,” he said. “That’s to keep the campers engaged for the whole camp.”
The homes are identified by the United Way of Aiken County as in need of repair. Building supplies are purchased through the camp’s enrollment fees, and the labor is free, Oliver said.
Tucked away in a back bedroom, Hammond said she was overwhelmed to have her home identified for repairs once again.
“I couldn’t afford to have (the repairs) done,” she said. “I’m blessed for them to come in and do it for me.”