WHITE PINE — A spike in fuel costs has created a response of biblical proportions.
Danny Newman, Bill Etter and fellow servants involved in Jefferson County Baptist Association Disaster Relief are volunteering scores of hours weekly to provide firewood to those in need. Working from a White Pine staging area, the trained emergency responders collect, cut and split wood.
The ministry has several purposes. According to the group’s landing page on the Jefferson County Baptist Association’s webpage, the primary call is to be able “to present Jesus by helping others when needs arise.”
Another is to provide training and skills preparation so that tree and timber crews will be up to date on necessary certifications when called into service when catastrophe strikes. A third builds camaraderie among participants so team members are connected when called into action.
In recent months, local members, most of whom are 70 years old or better, have deployed to Kentucky to help with flood relief. A pair of damage appraisers went to Florida and provided home damage triage in Hurricane Ian’s wake.
On a recent Friday afternoon, a half-dozen volunteers rendered six-foot logs into cordwood that is split and made ready for seasoning. While wood is primarily available to be picked up for those in need, Etter and Newman said delivery is possible for the elderly with no means of getting it themselves.
Beyond the seasonal firewood work, the local disaster relief team, which is part of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, is headquartered at First Baptist Church, Dandridge, and helps local residents in other ways,
“In the last seven years, we have built 43 ramps at homes for people who need them,” said Etter. “And some people make donations, which are appreciated, but they aren’t required.”
The local squad is seeking volunteers, noted Etter. When asked if volunteers need to be Baptist, Newman gave a wry grin and elicited chuckles from his friends by saying, “No, but it’s better if they are.”
Those looking to volunteer can reach Newman or Etter through First Baptist, Dandridge, at 865-397-3940.
Those who wish to donate to the cause, whether monetarily or with firewood, should call the Jefferson County Baptist Association at 865-475-1453. Area residents in need of wood should also contact the Association office. B&R — Reprinted with permission of The Standard Banner in Jefferson City.