June 2013


Author: Kitty Bartell

How we play the role of neighbor may take on any number of incarnations, and at Hilton Head Island Community Church, worshipers found a way to reach out to and meet the needs of their neighbors with an ambitious 30 days of outreach and volunteering during the month of April; changing the world locally under the leadership of the church’s ONE Community Director, Carrie Beck. According to Beck, the 30 Projects in 30 Days initiative came from a brain-storming session several months ago with Lead Pastor, Todd Cullen, and other key leaders. With Easter falling on the last day of March, and April conveniently having 30 days, the team felt it was a great fit with their vision. Knowing their outreach would be directed locally, Beck said, “The word ‘community’ is in our church’s name, so the community has to be a major focus of our outreach. In order to get out into the community, rather than establishing new programs, we really wanted to identify projects that would either serve our neighbors or serve local organizations, whether non-profits or religious organizations that were serving certain segments of the community and doing that well. We had no need to reinvent the wheel here.”

In an effort to offer volunteering options that met the diverse church community, Beck explains that the list of projects included a mix of on-site outreach as well as collection events. “We know some people have more time than money, and some people have more resources than time. We also wanted to contribute to organizations that served a variety of needs.”

Beginning with “Big Give Sundays,” collections were taken up each of the month’s four Sundays, starting with diapers, then personal hygiene products to benefit Deep Well and Volunteers in Medicine, followed by a food collection to benefit St. Andrews by the Sea United Methodist Church Soup Kitchen, Sandalwood Food Pantry, and Volunteers in Medicine, and culminating with a gift card and cash collection that was disbursed to various organizations who identified particular needs that had not yet been met.

Getting out into the community encompassed an army of church volunteers who suggested project ideas and coordinated teams to complete the work. Some of the organizations and causes that benefited from the 30 Days projects included Sandalwood Food Pantry, Neighborhood Outreach Connection, Volunteers in Medicine, St. Andrews by the Sea United Methodist Church Soup Kitchen, Pregnancy Center & Clinic of the Lowcountry, local schools, Backpack Buddies and St. James Soup Kitchen, Hilton Head Early Childhood Development Center, Memory Matters, local beaches, and quite possibly you or your neighbor.

“It was so great seeing the children get involved with the beach clean-up on Earth Day, and the teenagers with the Memory Matters event,” Communications Director, Cynthia Cullen said. “The 30 Projects initiative was intended to kick-start our church into being more actively aware of how we can serve. Our goal is to build great partnerships with all the non-profits on the island. If someone is doing something well, we’re going to get behind them and support them.” Even though the month-long project is over, “This isn’t over for us. This is who we are,” she said.

Church member, project liaison, and board member at Sandalwood Food Pantry, Kelly Clendaniel said the initiative made some major improvements in the pantry’s ability to serve the hungry and homeless on Hilton Head Island. Volunteers built new shelving for the pantry. “This allows us to give those we serve more options and to be more organized,” Clendaniel explained. Describing the pantry as a free-choice type resource, where those in need make selections in a setting much like a traditional grocery store, the newly organized inventory allows individuals to take better control of what they receive and more closely meet their particular needs.

Clendaniel also coordinated a team that provided manpower to Hilton Head IB Elementary, painting picnic tables and installing landscaping. She simply called the school principal and asked what they needed. “We showed up and did the grunt work,” she said. “It just brings me joy to serve others and be a blessing to them.”

Averaging 350 attendees each Sunday, Hilton Head Island Community Church is leading by example, teaching others how to be good neighbors. In addition to the local ONE Community concept, the congregation pursues global outreach programs as well. The church supports initiatives in Africa with nohungrychildren.org and is looking forward to an upcoming mission trip this summer to Belize with ROW KIDS, a locally-based missions organization (rowkids.org.) Given their momentum and creativity, this church will continue to do great things one neighbor at a time. As Beck said, “We get lost in the minutia of our lives that seems so important at the time.

We’re just changing people’s perspective. It’s not about Hilton Head Island Community Church; it’s about the other people in our community.”

Leading by example, teaching strangers to become neighbors, results in neighborhoods becoming stronger. We become better versions of ourselves when we realize that in helping others we are helping ourselves. Beck summed it up, “This is not a new concept. The Bible teaches us to be a good neighbor. That was our desire and the whole point of the project.”

Hilton Head Island Community Church is located at 860 William Hilton Parkway. Sunday services are at 9:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. For more information, call (843) 681-3399 or visit their website at hiltonheadislandcc.org.

Let Us Know what You Think ...

commenting closed for this article