Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

April 21, 2012

Community Day expects to draw thousands

VALDOSTA — About 15,000 people in need in the area will receive free food, clothes, medical care, eye exams and glasses when the Fourth Annual Community Day is held April 28 in the field across from Sam’s Club.

Parking is on River Street for the 11 a.m.-3 p.m. event, which will be held rain or shine, according to organizer Jay Watkins, pastor of Redland Baptist Church.

About 1,000 volunteers have committed to work the event which is sponsored by the Valdosta Baptist Association, which includes seven counties.

“Community Day is a way we show our local community the love of Christ through meeting all of their immediate needs ... collaboration via churches, supplies, medical care, free medicine, free eye exams and glasses, free hearing checks,” Watkins said in a recent interview at The Valdosta Daily Times.

“This year, we have 45-plus doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, and others who offer support care.”

Among the other free items are hair cuts, hand-carved walking sticks, Bibles, shoes, household items, appliances, concerts all day, concessions (hot dogs, hamburgers, drinks, snow cones), hygiene kits (toothbrushes, etc.), and a no sale yard sale.

A grocery store has been set up so people can receive groceries at no charge.

“Everything is absolutely free,” Watkins said. “It’s going to be so good. I’m very excited.”

Those who wish to donate clothes, working appliances, household items, including furniture, may call the Valdosta Baptist Association, 2912 N. Oak St., at 242-7402. Deadline for donating is Wednesday, April 25.

Community Day also offers free fun for the families, including bounce houses and slides, game booths, prizes, train and pony rides, clowns, and Disney characters.

“My kids love it,” Watkins said.

About 1,000 people have professed faith in Jesus Christ since Community Day started in 2008, Watkins said. The event came about after Redland’s annual mission trip to Mexico with a group called Mexico Medical Missions was blocked by danger from a drug cartel.

“Every door we tried to get open to do international missions was closed,” he recalled. “Our youth pastor, Jim Vaughan, now our senior pastor, said, ‘If God isn’t opening any doors internationally, let’s do it locally — like what we do in Mexico.’”

Thus, the first Community Day was held at Clyattville Park almost four years ago.

“This was the year the economy was tanking,” Watkins said earlier. “We thought there was so many people who had lost their jobs, had lost their ability to provide for their families, (so we said) ‘Let’s just have a whole day of free fun, free food, free medicine to help the community meet their immediate needs due to the recession.’ Our goal was to show them that through Christ their needs were being met.

“We thought at the most we would serve would be around 500. We had a team of eight or 10 physicians and dentists and 20 or so nurses. We got local community churches (from the Valdosta Baptist Association) involved with about 200 volunteers. We ended up serving 3,500-4,000 that day. It was so fun. Praise the Lord.”

As he looked out over the crowd who attended, Watkins told Mike Broadwater, VBA associational missionary, “This is what heaven is going to be like — every color, every (economic level) was there that day. We led over a hundred to the Lord. During the next year talking to Mike Broadwater and other pastors, we decided to make it an annual event to move from community to community to show the love of Christ through meeting their needs.”

The second Community Day in Cook County in 2010 was attended by about 8,000 and the third, last year, in Brooks County by about 10,000, according to the officers who parked the cars.

Last year, 950-plus volunteers, more than 20 physicians and 30 or 40 nurses participated in Community Day.

“It is the hardest work our churches have ever done, but the most rewarding,” Watkins said.

At last year’s Community Day, while Watkins was being interviewed, a woman approached him in tears, thanking him for the event and for the items she had previously been unable to get for her children.

“We’re just meeting the needs of our local community in the name of Jesus Christ,” Watkins said.

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