Hinton ‘Woodchuckers’ receive NC Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service
Hinton Center’s ‘Woodchuckers,’ a group of volunteers who coordinate the organization’s firewood ministry, recently received the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service.
From 2017-18, the Hinton firewood ministry averaged 224 pickup loads of wood per year. At a conservative commercial price of $70 per pickup truck load, that’s $15,680 worth of wood each year. The ministry is already ahead of that pace in 2019 with 94 loads distributed to those in need in January alone. The current volunteers with the Hinton Center firewood ministry have averaged 3,780 hours each year.
“Being a part of this ministry is extremely important in helping people in our community stay warm, and we receive joy from that,” said volunteer Ricky Beggs, who coordinates the ministry. “It is very rewarding to the members of our team. Great friendships have been created, expanded and strengthened from our time together.”
The firewood ministry began around 2015 and has continued to grow each year. It provides firewood for area residents who are unable to obtain it themselves. There is a surprising number of people in our community whose primary source of heat comes from wood.
The ministry’s needed support is two-fold: wood/tree donations and physical volunteers.
Hinton’s firewood ministry is supported by hardwood tree donations from area residents. For liability reasons, the trees must already on the ground. Volunteers from the ministry will assess the location of trees to make sure they can be safely retrieved, before cutting it into firewood length and transporting it to the Hinton Center firewood lot.
Once in the firewood lot, the individual firewood length logs must be split with donated wood splitters and then stacked. Every Wednesday, the firewood lot is heavily manned by volunteers splitting and loading wood in pickup trucks and trailers for folks needing wood for warmth.
“Some like to cut wood, some like to use the tractor to load donated wood, some like to split, and some enjoy helping recipients load their trucks and trailers,” Beggs said. “It is rewarding that everyone just jumps in as needed.”
Hinton’s firewood ministry always welcomes help from the community. Anyone wishing to donate downed hardwood trees can call Hinton Center during business hours at 828-389-8336. Likewise, anyone who wants to volunteer to cut and load wood in the field, or split, stack and load wood at Hinton’s firewood lot can call the same number. Volunteers are also welcome to simply show up at the Hinton’s firewood lot on Wednesdays between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. with work clothes on.
Although the Hinton Center has some limited equipment, most volunteers use their own chainsaws and even a few hydro wood splitters. The ministry welcomes volunteers who are able to bring their own equipment, but manpower is what the ministry needs most.