Think of the good that 1,000 people each donating $10 could do for a community.
That’s the goal of the Thousand Ten Project, said founder and organizer Rick Wilson.
“I had a name in mind, but I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said. “But then I thought, ‘What would happen with 1,000 people with $10 who spent that money to help the community?’”
Those participating in the street ministry met Saturday at Shields Park in Seymour to conduct a praise service, eat lunch and organize before going out into the community to try and do good deeds.
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“This year, we did it a little differently than previous years,” he said, referring to both the way the gathering was organized and the method of bringing charity to the community.
In the previous five years, the event primarily has been recruiting through churches.
While some of the churches that have participated in previous years continued, Wilson said they decided to focus on recruiting through social media this year, too.
By contacting individuals and groups of friends through social media, Wilson believed they would achieve a record number of attendees at the event.
Also different from previous years is the group’s method of delivering charity to those in need.
In the past, groups were formed and given numerous addresses of those in need in the community. They then visited the addresses, and if nobody was home, they would find some other method to use the money donated to help the community, such as going to the grocery store and buying food for random individuals or buying gas for people as they go through gas stations.
Wilson said this was a good method but didn’t really address the pure problem of helping those in need.
Instead, this year, groups of about 10 people received an address of someone who had been contacted prior to the event to let them know a group would be coming. That ensured the assistance got to where it needed to be.
New this year was homeless and suicide outreach.
The ministry tried to provide tents and backpacks to the homeless and spoke about the importance of suicide prevention and ways for those in need to get help.
Wilson said the primary focus of the event is to bring those in need in the community to the forefront.
“It’s easy to forget about people out there in need until you go knock on the door of a person with no food in the house. Then you can’t forget,” he said.
Rusty Rutan of Norman said she and her husband have been involved with the ministry since its inception.
In the past, her group talked to a married couple who were homeless and connected them with groups able to help them. This year, the couple were present to help out.
“It’s an event of love,” Rutan said.
Rutan also works at The Alley Street Kitchen in Seymour, which is located inside Wilson’s church building.
“There are more homeless people in Seymour than people think,” she said.
Betty Barr of Seymour came to the event last year with five of her family and friends to form a group. They helped a family that was overdue on their rent and put a family up in a hotel for the night since they had no other place to stay.
Barr said the experience was humbling.
“It’s such a good feeling to help someone,” she said.
This year, Barr was back with more family and friends, including children and grandchildren.
“My grandchildren are very fortunate. They have a lot and don’t have to go hungry,” she said. “I want them to see what some other kids have to go through.”
Barr said she hopes these experiences teach her grandchildren that if they see someone at school or on the street, don’t judge them because they don’t know what that individual has had to go through.
Barr’s group provided four pizzas donated by Little Caesars to one family before helping another family pay bills.
Wilson pairs the Thousand Ten Project with his street ministries at The Alley, enabling people to check back in on those in need and sometimes provide more assistance.
He said he sees taking care of those in the community as part of the Christian duty.
“This is part of Christ,” he said. “We are planting the seeds that Jesus talked about, and God is reaping the harvest of kindness and generosity.”
Wilson believes that faith is being repaid because every year, the event grows larger.
“More people come every year, and we can provide more help to those in need,” he said.