Church Members Help Out With Clean-Up Effort

Saturday, January 19th 2008, 9:50 pm
By: News On 6

The City of Broken Arrow is calling on volunteers to assist with its ice storm cleanup. Hundreds of them fanned out across BA neighborhoods on Saturday. The News On 6's Chris Wright reports the effort has been dubbed Operation BA Blessing and it was put together by local churches.

Organizers say everyone accomplished a great deal, while volunteers say dedicating their time was more than worth it. Despite the chilly temperatures, an estimated 800 volunteers from various congregations were out in force in Broken Arrow. They opted to spend their Saturday picking up debris the city has not had a chance to get to yet.

"We had one in tears a while ago, she was so thankful. So, that's rewarding," said volunteer Gene Tate.

First Baptist coordinated the effort, but seven other churches also contributed volunteers and resources to Operation BA Blessing. With their help, the debris quickly piled up. When the volunteers started, the field where the debris was taken was empty. Within just a few hours, the hundreds of volunteers had piled up hundreds of pounds of debris.

"If we can help out a neighbor, we'd sure like to do it. A lot of people have stopped us to tell us they really appreciate us helping them out. That's great. Gives you a good feeling. We're thankful for that," said volunteer Larry Wilkinson.

Church leaders met with city officials recently to figure out the best way for them to help with the cleanup. Operation BA Blessing was born, and even organizers were surprised by the turnout.

"We've been so proud of our church people. They really wanted to show the community the love of Christ in a real practical way. And, they've accomplished that. It's been great," said Kevin Cottrell with the Broken Arrow First Baptist Church.

Kevin says the best part of the experience was surprising unsuspecting, but grateful residents.

"The real question is why are you here? We love to answer that question. We just want to tell them we're neighbors just like you," said Kevin Cottrell with the Broken Arrow First Baptist Church.

Operation BA Blessing was a one-day only initiative. But, organizers will meet with the city again this week, and they hope to schedule more volunteer efforts for the near future.