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A local group of volunteers is making sure those less fortunate stay warm this winter season, through a project that keeps on growing.

Armed with trucks, wood splitters and cutters, axes and willing hands and spirit, more than 120 Summit Men’s group members from Chesapeake Church in Huntingtown recently cut and loaded 42 truckloads of wood to deliver to those in need, according to a church press release. The men delivered between a half cord to three cords of firewood at each stop. For many, the firewood could mean their only source of heat during the winter months.

This is the sixth consecutive year Chesapeake Church has spearheaded the Firewood for Families endeavor. This year brought the largest number of volunteers and more than doubled the amount of deliveries, 90 percent of which were to Calvert County residents, the release states.

“That’s just recognizing that there’s a need in the community for people who don’t have enough money to provide for heating and electricity in the winter,” said Jeremy Robinson, community life pastor at the church and the staff representative to the Summit Men. “It’s grown, but where it’s really grown is in the amount of volunteers.”

Robinson said he remembers the first year, when about 25 to 30 volunteers participated. Today, that number has doubled.

“It reminds me of maybe going back a century and seeing how people used to work together as a community, as a survival thing,” Robinson said. “One gentleman came to help because his mother was on the list. He was so moved, he brought his son out.”

And the reaction from those who’ve received the firewood? “Tears. Gratitude. Kind of blown away,” Robinson said.

“If you buy wood from a company, usually they deliver it to your house and they dump it,” he continued. “Our guys actually stack it up neatly right where you need it to be. We want to do whatever we can to really just comfort them during this time. ... That’s what the church does. We care for people.”

The majority of the families who received the firewood use the church’s Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry, and others came from referrals. The food pantry serves more than 500 families every week, according to the release.

“The need is out there and it is strong,” said Chet Taylor, Chesapeake Church’s Summit Men’s leader, in the release. “The men at the church answered the call to serve. I hear the stories of how the men who delivered the wood are just as touched as the firewood recipients when they return to the church. It is rather humbling.”

For the sixth straight year, Summit Men’s member Steve Krouse manned the splitter and cutter to help those who need help to stay warm this winter.

“I do this to serve the Lord, to help those in need,” he said in the release. “This is my way of giving back to those less fortunate.”

The wood is taken and hauled from woods around the church’s property in Huntingtown, said Jaqueline Miller, Chesapeake Church director of communications.

“Bottom line is those who attend Chesapeake Church have a servant’s heart,” Taylor said in the release. “They are called and answer every time. It’s contagious and the number of volunteering continues to grow.”

Robinson said the group is in its “third generation of leadership” now, and its mission is “really all about putting faith into action through serving the community.” Aside from the Firewood for Families initiative, the Summit Men also provides free oil changes twice a year, in the spring and fall.

For more information on volunteer opportunities or to learn about Chesapeake Church, go to chesapeakechurch.org, or call 410-257-0700.

mrussell@somdnews.com