Christmas in April promotes community effort


SPARTANBURG — Christmas in April has restored a lot of folks’ faith in the human race. Volunteers see a neighbor in need, and they respond with an energetic burst of goodwill and fellowship that restores the human spirit.

On April 25, 900 volunteers from Spartanburg spruced up 40 houses in the Arkwright and Inman areas. It was a full day of hard work as volunteers from churches, civic clubs and businesses pitched in to help carpenters, plumbers, electricians, roofers and painters bring a new vitality back to the houses and their homeowners.

Naman Young of Una had his hope restored last year when Christmas in April repaired his house.

He said he was awakened early in the morning by a lot of commotion around his house. He looked outside and was stunned. “A lot of people I didn’t even know started working on my house,” he said. “I just got filled up.”

Young called Christmas in April “a beautiful program,” and he even signed up this year to help one of his neighbors in need. “I’ve never seen anybody working together like you have.”

Christmas in April is a nationwide, nonprofit community partnership that started in Midland, Texas, in 1973. Last year, John and Cindy Barrett brought the program to Spartanburg after seeing it in Hartsville, Ala. In Spartanburg, John Barrett said, volunteers will make $200,000 worth of improvements to 40 homes. Nationwide, he said, 200 chapters will fix up 6,000 homes at a cost of $50 million.

“You are part of something much bigger,” John Barrett told the volunteers.

Since working with Christmas in April, John Barrett said that he has discovered the giving spirit of people. They care and want to help.

“When God’s children are in need, you be the one to help them out,” he said to the volunteers. “You are not going to stand on the sideline, but you are going to take part.”

Then they were sent out to the houses, and the whirlwind of work started. Some homes were painted, and floors were installed in others. Roofs were nailed on to some, and porches were repaired.

Parishioners from St. Paul’s and Jesus Our Risen Savior pitched in to paint a house in Arkwright owned by William Wright. It was a full-day that started at 7:30 in the morning and didn’t end until the sun began to set.

When it was done, the volunteers were exhausted, but they knew their efforts were worth it.

Then John Barrett walked up to Wright, shook his hand and said “Merry Christmas.”