It’s true. As Winston Churchill said, we make a living by what we get and make a life by what we give.
Just before the sun rose Saturday, November 21, nearly 100 of Henderson, Incorporated’s team members and their families gathered in the maintenance shop ready to give.
In the nearby lay down yard (a field on the property), dozens of tree-size logs, wood splitters and chainsaws awaited.
“Enjoy and embrace what today is all about,” Leslie Henderson Schultz, Henderson’s Vice President told the group. “Today is about giving back to our community.”
It was about showing the next generation what it means to be philanthropic, Schultz said, gesturing to the young children gathered to help, too.
“Today is about using our skills to help others,” she added. “Today is the reason for the season.”
The day was the 20th Annual Henderson Wood Cut.
Each year, thousands of trees are cleared, making room for new construction across greater Williamsburg. Instead of selling the wood for profit or chipping them up for convenience sake, many of the trees are saved throughout the year for families in need as firewood to help stay warm in the winter.
And every year, for the last 20 years, Henderson gathers to cut those trees, load up the usable firewood and deliver it across the region to families who will need it to stay warm through winter.
Henderson works with several nonprofits to identify families in need of heating assistance, including the United Way of Greater Williamsburg and Housing Partnerships. Families who receive wood are usually those whose homes haven’t been retrofitted with HVAC and use wood as their primary means to keep warm in the winter.
Over the last 20 years, Henderson’s team has delivered nearly 450 truck loads of wood.
This year (2015), Henderson chopped, loaded and distributed 25 loads of wood. Twenty-two loads went to families’ homes across Williamsburg. Each delivery came with a box of fire starters, a small Bible and a bag of cookies, baked and packaged by the Henderson children and families.
The final three loads of wood went to the Walnut Hills Baptist Church on Jamestown Road, which operates a wood ministry throughout the winter season.
While Henderson supports the community in a variety of ways throughout the year, the wood cut event is special, said Sharon Gibson-Ellis, executive director of the United Way of Greater Williamsburg, calling it an opportunity for the company to connect with families in a special way.
It’s a real connection that often lasts years. One volunteer at the wood cut this year was not a Henderson team or family member. He was the recipient of wood years ago and comes back every year to help pay it forward to other families.
“We made a real effort to get the kids involved this year, too, and help connect them to the families we helped,” Schultz said. “It’s important to connect the next generation to the mission, to show them how to support the community. This year they baked cookies, but also helped load the wood and went on the deliveries themselves.”
No annual wood cut article would be complete without a major shout out to the Dawn Patrol, the Henderson team that fuels the entire event.
The Dawn Patrol, called that thanks to their arrival at Henderson at 4:30 a.m. to start cooking up the breakfast feast to fuel the log splitting work of the day.
This year’s menu included 16 pounds of bacon, 15 dozen eggs, 150 pieces of sausage, 15 pounds of potatoes, 72 biscuits & gravy made with 4 pounds of sausage, cheese grits, chipped beef and gravy, honey cinnamon donuts and lots of love.
“A lot of helping hands went in to making today possible for our community,” Schultz said.