The Central Virginian

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Louisa church delivers wood, warmth and worship

Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 9:00 am

While Kenny and Tyler Forrest work the splitter, Stan Yackel and David Compton load a trailer with split firewood. Submitted photo

While Kenny and Tyler Forrest work the splitter, Stan Yackel and David Compton load a trailer with split firewood. Submitted photo

When Mineral resident Stan Yackel and his fellow members of Mineral United Methodist Church’s men’s group come across a particular verse in the Bible, they can most certainly smile. The verse is Matthew 25:40, where Jesus states that, “Whatever you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

It’s a verse that Yackel said he hopes describes the collective mindset of the group, of which he is president. Judging merely by their works, his group has heeded the words well.

For the past five years, the men have assembled at least once a week during the winter months, metaphorically traded their church building for chainsaws, and gathered wood for less fortunate members of the community. On Saturday, January 25, amidst eight degree temperatures and flanked by snow drifts, the group had it’s largest turnout, with 17.

“We call it a ministry, because it’s an outreach,” Yackel said. “We consider it more than a donation of our time, we’re serving the needs of others.”

The group works in partnership with the Louisa County Resource Council, receiving names to add to their list of recipients whenever possible. Though Yackel didn’t come up with the concept, he has turned the ministry into an efficient force in the community in his three years at the helm of the men’s group.

“We’re all looking for things to do in the wintertime,” Yackel said of the group. “This was a fun, camaraderie thing to do, and we knew there was a need for it in the community.”

And so has gone one of the more beneficial traditions in the area. Between the months of September and April, the team meets at least once a week to cut up fallen trees and restock their load of wood. They then deliver the wood on an as-needed basis.

“We try to estimate how long before people will need more wood,” the event’s coordinator, Dave Paton, said. “It’s not always 100 percent accurate, but a lot of our customers have my phone number, so they can call me when they get low.”

Paton says this as he thumbs through a neatly arranged notebook that he put together specifically for the task at hand. In it, he keeps the names, addresses and phone numbers of all those that the group serves. Have a question about the amount of wood a certain church member’s truck can handle or need directions to the next event? Paton has it covered, and if he doesn’t know, Yackel certainly does. On Sunday, the duo has already laid out a detailed plan of action for the upcoming week.

But call them efficient and you’ll be met only with a laugh.

“We’re old,” Yackel said, “We gotta think it through!”

The group currently serves 13 families in the community, and they average bringing in a cord of wood every week. So far this year, they’ve delivered the equivalent of 13 truckloads and 33 trailer loads to residents.

And while they currently keep a hefty stash of wood aside in case of a dire need in the community, Yackel and Paton made it clear that the group is focused on expanding. The group is already in discussion with another local church in hopes of combining forces, as well as seeking counsel with a sister church in Ladysmith that runs a similar ministry.

“We want to go down and have lunch with them someday to talk about how they do it, and maybe we can get some other ideas,” Paton said.

The duo referenced the large turnout on Jan. 25 as a sign that desire in the group is stronger than ever.  The event itself served as a fitting testament to the effort of the unit as a collective whole. Take, for example, the age range of those involved, which spanned from 19 to 79. What about the splitter that the group uses? It was paid for by 10 members of the men’s group, who also conributed funds for its upkeep as well.

“To me, last Saturday, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that this vast age of men are coming together for a common purpose, and that’s to help somebody else,” Paton said.

To read the entire story, see the Feb. 6 edition of The Central Virginian.