Eight churches in western Columbia County are coming together to offer those in need a hand up.
The churches are holding a barbecue fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Harlem United Methodist Church, with the proceeds going to the churches' joint effort, Hands Up Outreach Ministry.
"Mayor Scott Dean will be cooking. That is one of his gifts," said the Rev. Roger Vest, the pastor of the church and an organizer of the new ministry.
Tickets cost $6 and include barbecue, sides, drink and desserts.
Women from all eight churches will be preparing the sides and desserts, Vest said.
The ministry recently came together because of an idea from an Appling woman.
Some of the churches with volunteers are New Holt, New Hope, Fountain Grove, Second Mount Moriah and Harlem Baptist.
"She said God gave her a vision," Vest said, "(That) the churches need to come together, that we are more effective working together than us working alone. ... I just saw this as an opportunity of breaking down a lot of the barriers that are in the community."
Vest said the ministry, which will provide a counselor with each needy family, will refer those in need to organizations such as Amana Inc., United We Care or Columbia County Cares.
"We're not necessarily trying to reinvent what they are already doing," Vest said. "We're just trying to plug into what's going on. We want to give a hand up, not a hand out."
Vest said the ministry will act as a liaison between people who want to help and those who need it.
"A lot of times, when people come asking for help, they say they need help with food. Food is just one part of it," Vest said.
He said many of those people might also need help with rent, utilities, finding a job or getting a GED.
Vest said the program hopes to schedule such things as a Georgia Power energy audit, which is free to all residents; roof repairs; insulation; and help for the elderly such as cutting grass.
For more information, to get tickets or to volunteer, contact Vest at (706) 556-6885.
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