The Carpenter's Shop in Largo
Seniors at St. Paul UMC in Largo put their woodworking skills to great use and find joy in fellowship in this Fresh Expression. A recent Community Assessment of Older Adults in Pinellas County reported that 37% of them report being bored, and 22% say they lonely and isolated. Many also experienced the loss of a spouse. To address that issue, St. Paul UMC in Largo looked to a nearby UMC that had closed in 2016.
It was there that the St. Paul church created a Fresh Expression known as The Carpenter's Shop. The Florida Conference gave the church permission to use the closed church's property for this outreach. Volunteers make wooden toys that first responders and community organizations distribute to children in crises.
Even if a person isn't so great with tools, there are ways to be involved for all skill levels and ages. People can paint toys, trace patterns, and more. The St. Paul's Quilting ministry is also involved. Members there make quilts for the toy doll beds. It's a good way to get volunteer hours for school and scholarships such as Bright Futures. Depending on the offense (no violence or sex offender, etc.), those seeking to satisfy court-ordered community service also can volunteer.
The ministry follows the Child Youth Protection Policy, and volunteers are screened
Distribution assistance comes from the Largo Police Department, Largo Fire Rescue, Marine Cops Toy for Tots, Open Arms, and Metropolitan Ministries. Also, toys were sent on 11 international church mission trips. Children in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Liberia, and Puerto Rico have received the toys.