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Impact Clay Train makes a stop at Clay Hill Elementary

Posted 2/20/24

CLAY HILL – The “Impact Clay Train” made its second stop at Clay Hill Elementary last Saturday, which marked its penultimate stop through its countywide circuit. According to …

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Impact Clay Train makes a stop at Clay Hill Elementary


Posted

CLAY HILL – The “Impact Clay Train” made its second stop at Clay Hill Elementary last Saturday, which marked its penultimate stop through its countywide circuit.

According to volunteer Nancy McDaniels, Clay Hill was chosen because it represents a vulnerable community in the county.

“Unfortunately, Clay Hill is described as a ‘food desert.’ The nearest grocery store is a Dollar General over a mile away and not many have reliable transportation. For some kids, their best meal is the one provided at school,” she said.

During the event, light rain fell gently like mist. The smell of rain mixed with the smokey, mouthwatering smell of grilling burgers and hotdogs. Visitors and volunteers enjoyed free lunch under plastic tarp cover. 

The Impact Clay Train aims to provide residents with food, clothes, toiletries, physical exams and mental health services by meeting residents in their communities. The providers want to show the residents they are cared for and they can place their trust in them.

Celebration Church brought a whole truck with food donated by Waste Not What Not, Challenge Enterprises, Feeding Northeast Florida and other organizations.

Pastor Kevin Crowley greeted visitors with a smile with volunteers from his congregation.

“They (the organizations) provide the food, and we provide the manpower,” he said.

Seeds of Love Ministry was back again with its Clothes Car. Because of the rainy weather, the metal ramp up to the truck was slick. Volunteers carefully assisted older visitors into the truck to browse clothes, socks, shoes, toys and rain jackets.

One volunteer shared a memorable story from how one man came to them, having never before owned any clothes that weren’t hand-me-downs. The individual had a job interview the next day, and he made a great first impression with the clean new clothes he received.

The Impact Clay Train continued in the cafeteria. Organizations set up booths along the lunch tables and against the stage.

Clay County Public Libraries handed out free books and assisted residents in signing up.

Mercy Support Services talked to residents who were struggling with housing.

The Emanuel Project had to improvise. The nonprofit’s recreational vehicle, which was repurposed as a mobile clinic, was in the shop for repairs. So, Emanuel volunteers pitched tents on the lawn to provide a private space for checkups, physicals and referrals for residents without health insurance or limited health coverage.

Despite the gloomy weather, the volunteers were able to care for even more residents than last month, which is a sign of the county’s growing trust in the train. No judgment. Only help.

Impact Clay Train will be chugging through Grove Park Elementary in Orange Park on March. 16 with the same amenities and resources. From there, the train will return to Keystone Heights to start the circuit again.