The Alley’s Thousand Ten Project draws volunteers from all walks of life each year.
All have a story to tell about why they take the time to collect money and then hit the streets of Seymour to help those in need.
For the most part, however, they all do it for a simple reason.
“I just want to help other people,” Amanda Delph said prior to the start of this year’s project Saturday at First Baptist Church in Seymour.
Delph, who lives in Seymour, was participating in the 10-year-old project organized by The Alley for the first time.
“But I have been with The Alley for about two and a half or three years, and I am three years clean and sober, and people helped me get there,” she said.
The project involves teams of people going out into the community to help those in need. Each team is asked to have a captain, and each person is asked to bring at least $10. The team is then assigned a family to assist, and they go to their home and use the money to provide them with what they need the most.
Alex Foster, 13, of Seymour joined with his mother, Sophi Foster, on one of the teams. His friend, Wesley Miller, 13, of Seymour also was on that team.
It was the first time the two teens had participated, although they both have volunteered with The Alley over the years.
Alex said participating in the Thousand Ten Project was a good way to help out and give back to the community.
“I’m really excited about it,” he said.
Richard and Pam Winegarden of Seymour have participated in each of the 10 Thousand Ten Project events. There wasn’t one in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Richard said they became involved when he was still working, and the company he worked for required him to participate in a community service project. He and his wife choose The Alley and the Thousand Ten Project.
“One year, we helped a woman and mowed her lawn and bought her groceries,” Pam said. “She woke up one day and was blind. She had always worked, owned her own home and could take care of herself. It’s amazing what’s out there.”
One of this year’s teams helped a 31-year-old Seymour woman by paying her rent, buying diapers and wipes for her 1-year-old son and paying for an exterminator.
“I am blessed,” the woman said.
Organizer Tina Fleetwood, who is on the board of The Alley and serves as its treasurer, said she was happy with the turnout.
“We’re excited to have as many people as we do,” she said. “We’d love to have more, but that’s OK. We’re just excited to get to out in the community and just help them out and let them know they are loved and they are not alone.”
Fleetwood said they were able to gather the names of 22 people or families that needed some type of help.
Some of those people reached out to organizers, while the names of others needing help were submitted by people.
In some cases, the people receiving help don’t even know their names had been submitted, Fleetwood said.
“I don’t know if we can help them all, but we are going to do the best we can,” she said.
Sara Bowling, kitchen manager for The Alley, said her team was going out to help a woman who was $50 short on rent and buy her groceries. Her team raised $370 for the effort.
“We’re going to take care of anything we can,” Bowling said.
The other person Bowling’s team helped is a regular at The Alley.
“We actually know her,” she said. “She’s handicapped. Who knows what she will need? I imagine groceries and maybe household items.”
Laura Ruddick of Seymour, who was captain of another team, said one of their stops included a family that needed help with rent and bills.
“So we’re going to go help and see what we can do,” she said. “This is my second or third year doing it. I enjoy going out and helping people in our community. There’s a lot less-fortunate people, and going out and helping people makes me realize how fortunate I really am.”
Besides offering financial assistance, the teams took along cleaning supplies, clothing, socks, personal care products and other items to distribute as needed.
The Rev. Jeremy Myers spoke briefly before the teams hit the streets.
“We are so grateful with The Alley to have you here being a part of this day,” said Myers, who is serving as interim pastor of The Alley and also is pastor of First Baptist Church.
“The truth is our name is not actually The Alley,” he said. “That’s like a nickname when they call you Bud. We’re actually Matthew 25 Street Ministries, and what more appropriate thing for us to do as Matthew 25 Street Ministries than go out and live Matthew 25 on the street. So thank you so much for being here and being a part of this.”
Bunker Hill Christian Church of Salem provided the music for the program, which started with a meal for the volunteers.