Service project impacts Jackson County seniors

The sounds of chainsaws and wood splitters rang resiliently as enormous logs were split and new bonds were formed on WCU’s campus.

Impact Day

Over 100 community members showed up to the split and deliver wood. Photo by Ashley Kairis

With over 100 people contributing, 59 truckloads of wood were collected, cut, split, and delivered to residents in Jackson County.

In its seventh year, Impact Day, took place at Cullowhee United Methodist Church on Saturday, Oct. 8, in an effort to help the community that stretches beyond this campus.

Jackson County is home to around 8,000 senior citizens who struggle to keep warm in the winter. A lot of them use wood exclusively or to augment the heat source they already have. Some can no longer split the wood themselves and others are lower income and it can be hard to afford it.

“One of the most important things you can accomplish in your lifetime, I think, is busying yourself doing things that matter,” said senior pastor, David Reeves. “If you can find a job where you are relieving suffering, keeping somebody warm, and making sure they know they are not alone, then it not only helps them, but it makes us better individuals for doing that.”

Delivery Recipient

WCU student Samantha Teague and church member Earl Black with a Jackson Country resident after delivering and stacking the wood. Photo by Ashley Kairis

WCU students and staff worked alongside church and community members for four hours in the parking lot and out on the road through deliveries. As trucks pulled in and out of the driveway, the crowd of people worked together on the lumber to throw, pile, and pack the wood into the tailgates.

“Impact Day brings all kinds of different people and it’s a great way to see the larger community and who is in it and you get to make connections and friendships that way too,” said associate minister, Julia Trantham.

Sophomore Ali Coscore learns how to operate the chainsaw

Sophomore Ali Coscore learns how to operate the chainsaw. Photo by Ashley Kairis.

Around 300 families each year get their wood from the splitting and delivering that takes place right on Central Drive. Everyone in the area can help with the yearly Impact Day which will return next fall, however their endeavors this year are not done yet.

Wood splitting and deliveries will continue from November through March, every first Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. It is a great opportunity for students to go beyond earning service hours and get the chance to take part in getting to know and help others.

“Without getting into the community, I don’t think you recognize how much the community needs help,” said sophomore Katie Hockley.

All it takes to make a difference in this area is the decision to do so and the willingness to give away some of your time to benefit someone else. As a second year participant, it was clear to me as reporter what an impact this day really makes in the lives of the seniors of Jackson County.