Starting at 6 p.m., SPLASH Celebration will be held at the Clarence Brown Conference Center, 5450 State Route 20 in Cartersville. While there will be live music, the main focus of the free program will be the testimonies of people who were helped through the volunteers' efforts. From late April to July 31, more than 1,300 volunteers provided aid to their neighbors -- helping distribute supplies to those impacted by the April 27 tornado and, three months later, completing projects, ranging from painting to removing debris, at 104 worksites during SPLASH Bartow.
"The purpose of this event is simply for the body of Christ, for Christians to gather together to celebrate what God has done in such a short time. ... [Along with the tornado recovery efforts], we're going to celebrate what happened during SPLASH Bartow and then right after SPLASH Bartow, people from eight churches went down to the Grenadine Islands and we did SPLASH down there," said David Franklin, associational missionary for Bartow Baptist Association. "So in a three-month period of time, you had those three things plus the National Day of Prayer, which Bartow [County's attendance] was like the largest in the Southeast.
"So all we're doing is we're just getting together to celebrate that because that's a pretty big deal. I've never seen a community do anything quite like this. ... It's a special thing when you see people showing people God's love. That is a sweet thing and to see it across generational lines. There's four and five generations sometimes working together and when you have four generations working together, it's a neat thing just to be a part of that and to be a part of a community that's helping out. That doesn't happen everywhere. So that really is special."
For Franklin, being a part of this communitywide effort was an inspirational and unique experience. At the local and state emergency management agencies' request, he said he helped mobilize the church community during the tornado aftermath. Then Franklin again witnessed churches of various sizes and denominations coming together for SPLASH Bartow, an in-county, multigenerational mission offering.
In its fourth year, SPLASH -- Show People Love and Share Him -- featured 400 middle- and high-school students, 350 adult volunteers and 40 churches. Taking shelter at The Church at Liberty Square, Grace Baptist and Tabernacle Baptist at night, the participants also attended worship services.
Along with conducting Backyard Bible Clubs, SPLASH volunteers provided assistance, ranging from serving food to painting to yard maintenance at residences, especially for the elderly, and nonprofits, such as Bartow County Women's Resource Center, Community Christian Church's soup kitchen and the Cartersville-Bartow Community Church Shop.
Among the senior residents receiving assistance was Joyce Lingerfelt, whose Cartersville property received a substantial facelift. Along with removing overgrown bushes from her home, the volunteers also painted the structure's exterior.
"It meant the world to me," Lingerfelt said. "I'm so thankful and so grateful for what they did for me. It looked like a totally different place [afterward]. They came in because [my yard] was grown up because I can't get out and cut it. And it was so grown up around [the house]. They came and cleaned up the yard and [my home] needed painting real bad and they painted it. They painted the outside. And the children, the kids that worked, they were awesome kids."
For more information about SPLASH Celebration, contact Bartow Baptist Association at 770-607-0300.