By Kara Witherow, Editor
“Get off the sidelines and get into the game.”
That’s what Rev. Dorsia Atkinson heard God saying to him earlier this year. Rev. Atkinson isn’t an athlete or a coach, but pastor of Sylvania United Methodist Church.
As a pastor, Rev. Atkinson understood his congregation was frightened and worried. The coronavirus pandemic hadn’t spared Screven County, and Rev. Atkinson knew he had to do something to help.
“I just felt like we were talking about COVID but not doing anything. Everyone was scared and I wanted to be more proactive,” he said.
During his prayers, Rev. Atkinson felt God nudging him to help bring relief to the rural county of about 14,000.
“When COVID hits these small counties, it’s devastating. We don’t have Walmart and some don’t have Dollar General, so people run to the gas stations to get what they need and they spread the virus,” he said. “I needed to help keep people home.”
So like any good coach, he rallied players from several area churches and the Screven County Chamber of Commerce to assemble 400 COVID Care Boxes for those who contract COVID-19.
Full of medicine, vitamins, food, hand sanitizer, an N-95 face mask, other necessities, and a 14-page devotional book written by community members, the COVID Care Boxes are helping those who have coronavirus avoid stores and potentially spread the virus. They’re delivered to people’s front porches or safely picked up at a distribution site.
In addition to the Care Boxes, Rev. Atkinson has arranged for 1,000 bottles of disinfectant to be given to Screven County residents. 10 distribution sites also have been set up so residents may refill the 32-ounce bottles with concentrated disinfectant solution.
“The whole point of all this is that the chemical spray will help prevent COVID and the boxes will help keep people at home if they do get it,” he said.
The entire Between Two Rivers Cluster is involved in the project, Rev. Atkinson said, along with several other Screven County churches. They’re collecting donated items, packing them into boxes, serving as distribution sites, and more.
Now recovering from COVID-19, Rev. Judson Barnes, pastor of Hiltonia United Methodist Church, knows how helpful a COVID Care Box is to those who are sick.
“Having experienced COVID opened my eyes,” he said. “When I was sick, this community reached out and helped us, but it took probably five different people a couple of days to bring the same items that this one box contains.”
Revs. Barnes and Atkinson hope that their efforts help keep people in their community healthy and that through them they understand God loves them and hasn’t forgotten them.
“The world needs to see Christ more than just on Sunday mornings,” Rev. Barnes said. “They need to see us reaching out to people who don’t come through our doors. To give back as the hands of Christ is what we’re called to do. It’s the reason Christ died for us and asked us to follow Him. It’s a way to show people Christ is still in the world and Alive.”