Operation Inasmuch began in 1995 when more than half of the congregation of a church in Fayetteville, NC went out to serve the neediest in their community in a single day of service. Today the national nonprofit has a vision of “a Compassion Revolution across America by which more people in more churches serve their neighbors in need more frequently.” One way it pursues that vision is by training churches to get their members out of the sanctuary to serve the neediest people in their communities in one-day service events.
Churches in Somerset, KY began participating in Operation Inasmuch several years ago. Somerset First United Methodist Church (Corbin District) joins with the First Baptist Church, First Christian Church, High Street Baptist Church, and Duke Memorial Baptist Church for an annual day of service and community outreach. Members from all of the churches work together to bring goods and services to people in Somerset. A different church hosts each year. This year’s Operation Inasmuch took place on Saturday, September 15.
The Free Yard Sale is a big draw. Members of the congregations donate all sorts of items, and anyone who comes to the event can get whatever they need for no charge. This year, 25 tables were filled with a variety of goods.
Pam Cate, Missions Committee Chair for Somerset First UMC, said, “We have had everything donated from medical equipment, furniture, toys, household items, lots and lots of clothing. You name it and it was there, and then it's gone in about 3 hours!”
Free haircuts and health screenings were also offered at the Operation Inasmuch site. Another option was free family photographs. Each family that participated received a free framed photo and a CD of pictures. One girl had her senior portrait taken for the school yearbook.
Kroger set up a tent at the host church and gave away water. Representatives from local mental health agencies, the health department, and other area organizations were on hand to provide information to guests. There was also a blood mobile onsite.
In addition to the activities at the host church, volunteers worked on construction projects, including ramps and decks; painting; and yard work in the community. Others visited nursing homes, taking with them handmade walker bags and lap blankets for the residents. Church members also prepared over 400 casseroles to be frozen and used throughout the year for Hospice patients, families, and caregivers.
When First UMC was the host church last year, they started a new activity that has proven quite successful. Youth from the churches left paper bags on neighborhood porches, along with a note about Operation Inasmuch and that they were collecting food for Pulaski Emergency Relief Ministry, AIM Pregnancy Support Center, Project 58:10 (school children backpack nutritional weekend program), and Hospice. On Saturday, they returned to collect 300 bags full of donations. Community members also donated $375 to help the non-profit organizations.
It takes numerous volunteers to make this event work. Many people worked ahead of time to plan and publicize Operation Inasmuch. Many people, including those who receive needed goods from the yard sale, also enjoy the benefits of the day. For Ms. Cate, though, the people who gain the most from Operation Inasmuch are the volunteers.
“We are always so blessed by whatever we participate in,” she said. “People want to know why it's free, and we tell them because of God's love for us. We just want to pass it on.”