Ministry of the Month: Saint James’ Firewood Ministry

October 2017

“Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” – Romans 12:13

Fauquier County is one of the materially wealthiest places in the United States. But that’s not true for everyone who lives here.

Roughly 4,000 people in Fauquier live below the poverty level. And in an area where land prices are high and affordable housing scarce, even more people struggle to make ends meet and to afford those basic needs like decent housing and heat during the winter.

Colin Borgstrom, who heads up the Saint James’ Wood Ministry, emphasizes that the need is everywhere, not just in areas of the county that have been especially left behind in economic development.

“Sometimes we will get an address for a firewood delivery and learn about people’s situations, and I think, ‘wow, this is right down the street, this is in my own neighborhood.’”

It is against this backdrop that Saint James’ Wood Ministry seeks to lift up our neighbors in Fauquier County by providing firewood to individuals and families who rely on a woodstove or fireplace as their sole source of heat during colder months.

According to Lynn Ward of Fauquier Community Coalition, “The wood customers mostly are elderly, living in drafty old houses with inadequate insulation. Without us they would often choose between medicine and heat. But due to our blisters and sore muscles, they have free heat throughout the cold months.”

facts and needs

  • First Split-and-Stack Day: Saturday, October 21, 9:00-11:00am
  • Also need volunteers to help with weekly deliveries on Tuesday or Thursday evenings
  • Fauquier Community Coalition seeks the donation of a used chainsaw to keep at the wood collection site
  • The wood collection site is located behind Walmart and Brumfield Elementary School. For directions, click here.
  • Contact: Colin Borgstrom

This ministry operates in conjunction with Warrenton Baptist Church, which operates the firewood collection site behind Walmart, and Fauquier Community Coalition.

Volunteers from Saint James’ are always needed to split and stack firewood at the collection site. The first split-and-stack day this fall will be on the morning of Saturday, October 21, and will be scheduled regularly after that – usually about every other Saturday. Check the Saint James’ Facebook page and website for updates.

Furthermore, this year Saint James’ seeks to build a core group of volunteers who can help with weekly firewood deliveries on a regular basis.

These volunteers are needed to distribute firewood from the collection site behind Walmart to households in the county on either Tuesday or Thursday evenings. It requires only a short time commitment to help with deliveries, and it makes all the difference to have a rotation of regular volunteers who can keep households supplied with the firewood they need.

Of course, firewood is not the only need for people in our community. This ministry often opens the door to identify needs that require more comprehensive support; the core mission of Fauquier Community Coalition is to coordinate this help.

“We take them wood, see their plight and help them out and it completely changes their life,” says Lynn Ward. To illustrate these situations, he shared the following stories:

“This is a grandmother and her 4 yr. old granddaughter. We got word that she needed firewood, but she has no address so we had a heck of a time finding her. We immediately knew she needed help. She had no curtains and there are several shacks in this woods. Men from them sometimes would walk by. She had no curtains so that was first on the list. She needed furniture, decorations, and other household items. With no running water,she was catching rainwater from the roof. We ran a water line from her son’s house a tenth of a mile away through dense underbrush. We bought her a small water heater and installed it. A couple of days ago we took her an almost new donated over and under washer dryer and a donated stand up freezer. The water situation is not perfect. the line is above ground. Her son has a compressor to blow the water out in strong cold snaps, but we were able to get her water for under $300.”

“Man living in a 90 yr. old garage used to repair cars back in the day. We take him wood, have gotten him a stove that will hold heat, have since gotten him furniture and cabinets to store his clothes and things. The man who lets him there rent free refused to approve electricity. He has no power and no water. We have hauled away some of his considerable trash. Since he has no electricity we can’t cover  all the windows. Norm was out there this past week doing ground work for Dominion hooking him up. It will cost us $200 which will help his livability.”