“As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” — Proverbs 25:25 (KJV)
PIQUA — Piqua, Ohio, isn’t exactly a “far country” from Flint, Mich., with roughly 224 miles separating the two cities, but the news from here to there is decidedly good.
The water crisis in Flint is making national, even global, headlines, from Congress hearings to federal investigations to high-profile celebrities donating bottled water. Here on the home front, away from the whirlwind of politics and paparazzi, every day people are doing their part to help.
Greene Street United Methodist Church is serving as a collection site for donations to be delivered to the thousands of Michiganders affected by contaminated water supplies.
High levels of lead have plagued Flint’s water supply for at least a year, according to various news sources, leading to a laundry list of ill health effects: skin lesions, high levels of lead in the blood, and loss of hair, vision and memory, among other symptoms.
“A church member was burdened by this crisis and brought it to our attention,” said Pastor Kenneth Stewart. “His burden stirred passion amongst the people to help.”
That member, Fred Shellenberg, is putting action behind his words. A former truck driver, Shellenberg volunteered to personally transport the donated cases of water to Flint during the first week of March.
“He just thought it was something simple he could do to help,” Pastor Stewart explained.
“At this point, we’ve collected at least 10 large cases of bottled water, but are looking to collect much more through the end of the month,” Pastor Stewart said.
This is just the latest endeavor in a long history of outreach efforts at Greene Street UMC, home of one of the largest child care ministries in Piqua. Nearly 200 children from 6 months old to sixth grade are served there each day. The church partners with Piqua Compassion Network, providing funds and volunteers to assist with the needs of the community.
Greene Street also hosts a food pantry that serves an average of 2,000 clients each year without the use of any public funds. The church hosts block parties, Trunk or Treat, egg hunts, Vacation Bible School, and a broad array of other ministries for teens and families. In addition, they’re involved with the KidsHope USA mentoring program with Piqua City Schools and partner with other churches for Holy Week worship gatherings.
“We intentionally look outward to share the love of God with our city,” Pastor Stewart said.
Donations of bottled water will be accepted through Monday, Feb. 29, at the church located at 415 W. Greene St., between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as on Sundays, when worship services are held at 9 and 10:30 a.m. For more information, contact the church office at (937) 773-5313.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341