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Madison UMC youth’s stay-at-home mission benefits God’s Garden

Youth from Madison United Methodist Church mulch watermelons at God's Garden. (CONTRIBUTED)
Youth from Madison United Methodist Church mulch watermelons at God’s Garden. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Madison United Methodist Church youth reconsidered their annual, out-of-state mission trip, stayed home and got their hands dirty to help feed people in Madison County.

They worked in God’s Garden, a program of Manna House food bank in Huntsville. Kathy Whissel schedules volunteers, planting and maintenance at the garden on Spacegate Drive, off Research Park Blvd.

The garden provides fresh vegetables and fruits to Manna House for distribution to people in need, Madison UMC Youth Director Shannon Lott said.

For several years, the Madison youth group had wanted to help Manna House. “We heard about God’s Garden and the importance it serves at Manna House. We thought it would be a great way to help the community,” Lott said.

Lott, children’s director Cynthia Stewart and the youth weeded and mulched all types of vegetables, including zucchini, squash and especially watermelons.

“Working in the garden was a wonderful experience,” Lott said. They stayed overnight at church for an early start. “It’s hard to believe our youth got up at 6 a.m. during the summer to go work in the garden, but they did. We’ll definitely be going back soon to help.”

Also that week, the youth worked in Rose of Sharon Soup Kitchen, Manna House, Inside-Out Ministries, Open Gait Therapeutic Horse Center for children with disabilities and visited Valley View Nursing Home and Rehab.

Throughout that week, the youth met people who are less fortunate. By week’s end, “getting up early to work in the garden wasn’t a huge sacrifice,” Lott said.

The youth started to realize “by harvesting vegetables and working the land they were helping to feed people,” Lott said. “It really can make a difference in those people’s lives.”

The youth now know homeless and needy people are “right in our own backyards. Truth is, we have people in need right here in Madison/Huntsville. If we would all just pitch in a little time and effort, we can make this a much better place to live,” Lott said.

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