It all began with a challenge.
Boy Scout Troop 950 and its leader, Mike Clark, were challenged to raise money to help the people affected by Hurricane Katrina. They raised $3,000 raking leaves, which they donated through Loudoun Habitat for Humanity.
That one event started a chain of events that now has Clark working with his church, Ashburn Presbyterian, to raise money for Loudoun Habitat for Humanity so he and some of his fellow congregants can travel to Mississippi. The group plans to help the organization build desperately needed houses during the week of April 7.
Clark's work with his troop inspired him. During the last week in January he joined Loudoun Habitat for Humanity for one of its trips to East Biloxi.
"Biloxi doesn't get the press, but it was in the wall of the hurricane the whole time," he said. "Seventy-five to 80 percent of all homes were destroyed. When you land at the airport and there is nothing but destruction all around you."
WHILE PLANNING for his trip, Clark spoke with Ashburn Presbyterian Church elder Bonnie Block who leads the church's missions and evangelism outreach.
"WeÕve created a mission grant program to encourage people to go outside their community to serve. It was established around Mike's January trip," Block said. "We have focused mostly on local work, so this [trip] was an opportunity to develop broader outreach."
As a prerequisite of the church's new grant program, Clark was required to give a presentation to the congregation. It was those presentations that spurred other church members into action.
"I put forth a challenge, that if they had the time and facilities that they should come down to Mississippi with us," Clark said.
Block said the response to Clark's challenge was amazing.
"People began approaching me immediately," she said. "For this response and trip to come up so quickly just shows how much people want to help."
Fourteen people, including Clark's family, Block and her daughter and two other families, will spend their spring break helping Habitat for Humanity.
IN ORDER to raise money that Habitat for Humanity desperately needs, Clark and Block put together a fund raiser. On Saturday, March 18, Ashburn Presbyterian Church will hold a fund-raising dinner to be followed by a pie auction to help get Habitat the supplies it needs to continue its work.
The dinner will be an authentic Cajun feast, prepared by the church's Kathy Armstrong, a former chef and Mississippian. The menu includes seafood gumbo, chicken gumbo, red beans and rice with smoked sausage, and bananas foster and bread pudding for dessert. There will also be a separate menu for children.
Dinner will be followed by a pie auction, which is being organized by Block. She hopes to have local celebrities, including members of the Board of Supervisors and School Board, the Sheriff and the fire chief, donate pies that attendees can bid on.
"Ideally, we would love to have these people bake the pies themselves," Block said, "but even a pie purchased would be a great donation."
With 150 seats to fill in the church's Pickell Hall, Clark hopes to raise at least $3,000 to $4,000 for the charity.
"I don't have a set goal," he said. "Any money we can raise will help."