Campers trade vacation for volunteerism

Group helps out with home projects
Jul. 02, 2014 @ 08:09 AM

Nearly two years ago Lee Laney, 79, suffered a heart attack and now struggles to walk due to poor blood circulation, so he was in dire need of a wheelchair ramp to get in and out of his house.

Thanks to a faith-based volunteer agency called Carolina Cross Connection, Laney will get his wheelchair ramp.

Carolina Cross Connection has more than 1,400 volunteers each summer spread across five camps across Western North Carolina to build wheelchair ramps, porches and steps, set underpinning for mobile homes, and do yard work, home repairs, painting, cleaning and window washing. The organization serves an average of 700 needy households a summer.

Two camps joined forces and converged this week on Caldwell County. Their first stop Tuesday was Haven Circle, where Laney and his wife, Carol, have lived for the past five years. By 10 a.m., a team of six volunteers had already dug holes to place 4 x 4 posts for the ramp. A load of boards was stacked up and ready to be screwed into place by the volunteers, including 18-year-old Abbey Mills of Monroe. While her friends soaked up the sun at the beach, Mills instead chose to help families with limited resources and great needs.

"I like to help these people. It brings me real joy," said Mills, who will be a freshman this fall at Anderson University in Anderson, S.C. "I love to see the smiles on their faces."

And smile they did. The Laneys sat on the porch watching the ramp slowly take shape. The little porch has no rails, and the two steps leading to the driveway looked treacherous.

By today, the new ramp and handrails will be in place and ready to use.

"We're thrilled and excited," Lee Laney said. "It's a blessing that comes from God."

David Cox, 45, who drove up from Catawba to help, said this is his 10th year volunteering.

"I always come thinking I'm going to bless other people, but I'm typically the one being blessed," he said. "It's always good to see the kids give up a week during the summer to help others."

Camp directors Briana McLeod of Lexington, Miss., and Katie Davis of Charlotte, who are overseeing the projects in Caldwell County, said a sense of community motivates them more than money.

"Seeing groups come out and do projects for those who need it is why we do this," McLeod, 23, said.



Carolina Cross Connection is seeking more service projects. Anyone who needs a project, or knows of someone who does, can call 704-721-0033 or e-mail