The fragrance of fresh-cut wood blended with the buzz of chainsaws and splitters as volunteers spent a day creating piles and piles of firewood for residents in need.
After the work was done, the volunteers sat down to a steak dinner to celebrate their hard work.
Therefore the name: Split & Steak.
The Conifer Community Church wood ministry event in its 13th year brings together volunteers from the church and the community to make sure families won’t be cold this winter. This year’s goal was to split 70 cords of wood, all to be given away.
For Barb of Conifer, who asked that her last name not be used, the firewood that volunteers piled into her car was a godsend.
“I got really sick and now I’m in dire straits because I can’t afford to pay for heat,” Barb said. “This is the most amazing thing.”
Pastor Lance Swearengin said Split & Steak was the first event he participated in when he came to Conifer Community Church in 2010. While the event continues to grow, so does the need, and he said it shows the church community’s generosity.
“They help others in a tangible way,” he said.
Jeremy Fowler, who heads the church’s firewood ministry this year, explained that the church collects wood throughout the year, and much of the firewood the church distributes is cut during Split & Steak, with 125 volunteers making it happen.
The church would like to double the number of volunteers next year because the more people bucking, splitting and stacking firewood, the more people can be helped.
Erin Stewart helped put firewood into people’s vehicles, saying it felt good to give back to the community. She is a parent of a Boy Scout from Troop 400, which is based at the church, and several Scouts were hard at work as well.
Phil Candelaria was stationed at a log splitter, keeping it working as the pile of split wood continued to grow. A veteran of this event, he says he has several t-shirts that are given to the volunteers each year, and he enjoys helping because he knows people need wood each winter.
Ben Petersen brought wood to Candelaria’s splitter, and he joked that he thought he was signing up for the steak meal. More seriously, he said, “I do this kind of work at home, so I have the ability to help out.”