- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) - Hundreds of teenagers and dozens of adults spent a week recently getting acquainted (or reacquainted) with the arts of roofing, plumbing, flooring and electricity, by way of Salkehatchie Summer Service, with its emphasis on spiritual challenges and manual labor.

Aiken, New Ellenton and Warrenville received attention recently, courtesy of teams from Greenville, Columbia, Florence, Spartanburg and elsewhere around the state, while some teens and adults from Aiken spent time in McCormick and Plum Branch.

“It’s a church retreat combined with a week of service and missionary work,” said Aiken resident Daniel Kingery, 15, who served in McCormick County and now in his second year of Salkehatchie work.

“The first two days, you have faith programs and … time with friends, and Monday through Friday, you come back and work on somebody’s house that needs repair … and you do everything from painting the house to replacing the bathroom, or you can re-roof the house - all kinds of stuff there.”

Among those being served was Aiken resident Bernice Bonham, who said she was looking forward to getting a walk-in shower. “They’re doing my hallways and my floors and then cleaning my yard that’s a mess, and they brought me something to eat, two times,” she said, with a laugh.

“I just turned them loose, and they do what they want, and they’ve done me good.”

Bonham’s house was getting attention from 10 teens and two adults, including Billy Newsome, from Columbia, representing a group of from Eastminster Presbyterian Church. Another camp leader described this year’s group as the largest in the 11-year history of the local outreach.

Newsome noted that Bonham’s house - the seventh one getting attention this year in Aiken County - was added at the last minute, as more volunteers became available. “I really don’t know what I’m doing, but we’re having fun. … The materials were delivered a couple of days ago, and we’re picking up more materials as we find what additional work needs to be done,” Newsome said.

George Schraibman, 15, from Columbia, who worked in New Ellenton that week, commented, “I’ve done some mission things before, but I’m learning a lot, too.”

Highlights, he said, included the chance to “knock out a kitchen.” Among the challenges was the expectation to work all day in the sun, and then get up early the next day. The official schedule for that Monday through Friday had “rise and shine” listed for 5:45 a.m., and “lights out” at 10:30 p.m. (except for Friday, which was an hour later).

Waking up at the crack of dawn is “very challenging,” said Spartanburg resident Abigail Mahaffey, 16. She was also part of the New Ellenton team.

Describing the overall experience, she said, “I think everybody just gets joy out of being able to help others, and seeing the reactions of the family members … just reassures your faith that you’re doing good.”

Aiken resident Janette Godwin, an adult volunteer who also in McCormick County, said her group, composed of 14 workers, was “tearing down the back porch and rebuilding it, and … fixing the bathroom and the bedroom because the bedroom has two large mold spots, and the bathroom doesn’t work.”

Also getting help that week were Warrenville residents Jesse and Stephanie Ferguerson. Jesse described the service as an answer to prayer. As for the volunteers, he added, “They are very wonderful people.”

Stephanie said, “I am very happy that they were able to do their work … and may God bless each and every one.”

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Information from: Aiken Standard, http://www.aikenstandard.com

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