Dozens of churches come together to serve Columbia

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COLUMBIA - Forty-eight Columbia churches will gather this weekend to participate in the third annual ForColumbia volunteer event, a city-wide day of service.

ForColumbia Coordinator Lauren Eisleben said she already considers the event a success.

"Our mission is to bring churches together and their members together to work alongside each other to serve Columbia," Eisleben said. "For the past two or three months, that's already been happening with communication between the churches and our volunteers."

ForColumbia aims to lend a helping hand at about 40 project sites.

"We're gonna be doing practical serving opportunities around Columbia," Eisleben said.

Volunteering begins Friday night with ForColumbia hosting game nights at Oak Tower and Paquin Tower for its residents.

"Those are specifically designed for youth groups," Eisleben said. "We're also going to be doing food assembly at the food bank."

The volunteer service continues into Saturday with the big deployment of volunteers. There will be almost 2,000 ForColumbia volunteers this year compared to the 700 in 2015.

Service includes cleaning, landscaping, construction work and painting at various non-profit organizations and private homes around Columbia.

"Basically anything that they have a need for, we'll be doing for them," Eisleben said.

She said ForColumbia focused this year on getting a bigger picture of Columbia's diverse population.

"We're really excited to have several international churches join us this year for the first time and we also have several serving sites of the first ward area of the downtown district," Eisleben said. "We're emphasizing the diversity of Columbia and how we really want to bridge the gap between different ethnicities and different age brackets and economic statuses."

Eisleben said the months of hard work and planning is going to pay off.

"Just to see the residents and organization owners and employees take a breather for a day and let us do some work for them and serve alongside other Christians in Columbia is probably what I'm most looking forward to," she said.

The deadline to sign up for ForColumbia has already passed, but Eisleben said anyone interested in volunteering next year can visit ForColumbia's website for more information.