It’s Salkahatchie Week in Fairfield!

WINNSBORO- The Fairfield encampment of Salkahatchie kicked off on July 8 and will continue through July 15. Salkahatchie is a week in July when as many as 150 students come together from all over the state to repair homes for those who could not otherwise afford the repairs. Sponsored by Methodist churches all over the state for more than 30 years, an event of its size could never get off the ground without the help of other churches who pitch in every year to feed and house the volunteers who pour into the County.

Once they arrive, the students are divided into teams and each team is assigned to a house under the guidance of experienced contractors. The event brings together students from age 14 through college age. Besides working long days in homes that sometimes have no air conditioning, the students also make an effort to put together community resources for the families who live in the homes.

Many of the supplies that are used to repair the homes are donated by area businesses.

“I feel like it’s a very significant event. It benefits both sides – the volunteers and those who so badly need the help with home repairs,” Julie Bellman, pastor of Winnsboro’s First United Methodist Church said. “I think the relationships that are formed really change people’s lives, and it’s equally beneficial for the teenagers who give up a week of their summer to come and voluntarily serve to help a family in need.”

Salkahatchie runs over 50 camps, mainly in rural areas, each year in South Carolina. With around 125 volunteers, Fairfield County is one of the largest in the state this year. The maximum capacity of volunteers is 150. Only the Pee Dee camp has a higher capacity then Fairfield.

Those participating in the Fairfield program, are housed at Fairfield Central High School where they have access to showers and sleep on the gym floor on bedding they bring from home.

Bellman said the school district is a great supporter of Salkahatchie.

“The school has been excellent, very accommodating. They give space for us to use at no charge,” Bellman said.

Churches throughout the County provide meals for the volunteers and every year there is a cookout hosted at church member’s home equipped with a pool so they can cool themselves down after laboring in the hot summer sun, Bellman said.

Among the numerous sponsors are the Church of God of Prophecy, Sion Presbyterian Church, St.Johns Episcopal Church, St.Theresa’s Catholic Church, Greenbriar United Methodist Church, Church of Latter Day Saints, St.John’s United Methodist Church, Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church, First Nazareen Church of Winnsboro and many more.

“There’s a ton of local churches that help feed the kids, bring water and popsicles and all kinds of stuff that really helps out,” Fairfield Salkahatchie Camp Director Frank Gravely said. “What they bring us is vital, Between hydration and feeding us, it’s huge. They’re a very big part of we do.”