Need is higher than usual, the COVID-19 pandemic having complicated matters over the past two years, Christmas In Action Project Coordinator Teresa Bednar said.
“COVID-19 hurt and threw us behind the last couple of years,” Bednar said. “We’ve had several applications for a while of people needing help and who have been approved. But that’s okay, people are finally beginning to feel safer and coming out in bigger groups so we decided to have a big community work day this weekend.”
CIA’s Community Work Day runs 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Individuals, families, businesses and organizations interested in lending a hand are encouraged to show up at 8 a.m. Saturday at 1643 W. Henderson St. to register, or to call 817-774-2022 for information.
Those looking for help or to donate are also encouraged to call the above number.
“We have five or six churches involved and the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Cleburne Group involved,” Bednar said. “But we still need more help and everyone’s welcome.”
CIA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, puts Christian principles into action by repairing the homes of Cleburne and Johnson County elderly, disabled, low income and veteran residents.
“All the repairs are paid for by CIA,” Bednar said. “Money for that comes from donations from businesses, organizations and individuals in the community.
“We also partner with the city of Cleburne through the HOPE Project, so we get funds from that for projects inside the city. But what we’re really lacking right now are funds for projects outside of Cleburne.”
Saturday’s work day entails repair and clean up of five Cleburne homes and one each in Rio Vista and Grandview.
“Some of the groups began working on Monday since it takes all week to get some of these homes prepped,” Bednar said. “And, of course, our donated contractor work, roofing, plumbing, electrical and those things requiring skilled labor they work on that stuff ahead of time.”
Much remains, however, for willing volunteers.
“Yard work, debris clearing and haul off,” Bednar said. “We need a lot of scraping for exterior painting. We’re rebuilding a wheelchair ramp at one of our houses. Window sills need to be reconstructed at another. If you show up, we’ll find something for you to do.
“These projects are also great opportunities for groups or families to work together, great opportunities for parents to show their kids the importance and value of helping others and giving back.”
Projects go throughout the year in addition to Saturday with another big Community Work Day scheduled for May 14.
“Any churches, businesses or groups looking to do a project are welcome to call us if they can’t make Saturday or May 14 but want to do something on their own schedule,” Bednar said. “We can set them up with a list of people who have been approved, supplies and our trailer and all.”
CIA officials are looking to reestablish relationships as well.
“We still have a lot of churches, businesses and all working with us,” Bednar said. “But everyone just kind of froze with COVID-19 so we’re working to rebuild those relationships with those businesses and organizations get them and others back involved, because that’s how this program keeps going.”
Even with COVID-19, CIA officials and volunteers managed to complete 34 projects last year.
“But we did them with smaller groups and sort of here and there in stages,” Bednar said. “But we still have a long list of applications and are looking to get back more to normal so we can begin working on these projects and helping people in need out.”
Members of the Cleburne Fire Department pitch in every year to help during work day.
“It offers CFD a chance to give back to the community and the people that have always supported us so strongly,” Cleburne Fire Chief Scott Lail said.
CIA board advisory member Peter Svendsen encouraged all to join in and called CIA’s mission a mirror of Cleburne and Johnson County values.
“This being a Christian community and CIA being a Christian based organization, we understand that the greatest command is to love God but the second is to love your neighbor,” Svendsen said. “Well, to do that, you need to take a look around to see what your neighbor needs. Volunteering with CIA is a great way to do that, get to know our neighbors and help them out.”