Keeping Fauquier Warm in the Winter

Fauquier Community Coalition Wood Ministry

On any given Saturday, if you drive behind Brumfield Elementary School in Warrenton, you will find men, women, and teens busily splitting and sawing donated wood and loading pickup trucks with firewood to be donated to local residents in need who depend on wood for their winter heat. This is the wood ministry of the Fauquier Community Coalition, started by Warrenton Baptist Church (WBC) some five years ago, which now includes volunteers from many other churches, non-profit organizations, and individuals in the county.

Tom and Judy Williams have been organizing and supervising this volunteer effort for over three years. Tom, a former financial analyst for Lockheed-Martin, and his wife Judy, retired educator and principal of Grace Miller Elementary in Bealeton, use their leadership and management expertise and experience to ensure the ministry keeps running smoothly and effectively. Tom organizes and oversees the volunteer work and Judy is the “Wood Lady,” who interacts with clients, determines needs, and passes that information on to Tom. Sometimes this means she needs to be a comforting voice and an understanding listener to those who are dealing with difficult circumstances. She says her experience gained through her years as a school principal have assisted her on those occasions.

Tom and Judy say the ministry is currently the sole provider of wood to some 20 families in central and southern Fauquier and last season made a total of 138 truckloads of deliveries, thanks to volunteers who logged 1,200 volunteer hours.

Tom and Judy Williams

And it all started with prayer. Two members of Warrenton Baptist Church—Lynn Ward and Claiborne Crain—who were part of a prayer group at the church seeking ways to help less fortunate local residents, started by doing handyman work and fixing up substandard houses. In the process, they learned that many homes, especially in southern Fauquier, depended on firewood for wood stoves to meet their basic winter heating needs. Firewood was often not easy to find, and the cost was often prohibitive.

Coincidentally, Warrenton Baptist had been gifted a plot of land just behind Brumfield Elementary School, and initially it was trees from the property that were felled and split and delivered to households in need. The local Department of Social Services began providing the church with information on prospective clients and, through word of mouth, other clients were found, vetted, and added to the list of recipients.

Three years ago, as WBC began to recognize the full extent of the need in the county, the program expanded. St. James Episcopal Church became a partner, and together they decided to hold a work session every Friday on the Church woodlot and to alternate leadership of the work on alternate Saturdays throughout the year.

Volunteers keep the ministry going. Wood is generously donated by local arborists and individual ministry supporters. Volunteers use donated gas-powered splitters and their own chainsaws to process the wood. These individuals have ranged in age from 5 to 85 years of age and have included local church members, individuals, scouts, and representatives of non-profit organizations.

The ministry also has partnered with the Points of Light Foundation to have a special one-day volunteer session for which they were rewarded with Disney World passes that can be sold to provide the ministry resources for further charitable work. This year’s one-day session brought in 84 volunteers working a total of 332 hours and completing 28 deliveries of wood. Proceeds from the sale of the Disney World passes will be used for housing repairs in Fauquier County and food relief for those in need in Ft. Liberte, Haiti.

Tom Williams says the Ministry’s biggest need now is volunteers with pickup trucks to deliver wood, especially during weekdays. You may also provide support by donating to the Fauquier Community Coalition (501-3c non profit) or by emailing Tom at thomaswilliams05@comcast.net to volunteer or gain additional information.


Participating Organizations
Warrenton Baptist Church
St. James Episcopal Church
Warrenton Church of Christ
The Bridge Church
St. Patrick Orthodox Church
Friends of Ft. Liberte, Warrenton Chapter
Order of the Arrow

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About Gary Carroll 5 Articles
Gary Carroll is a Fauquier native and, except for seven years living abroad, has lived here throughout his life. He has a B.A and M.A. from University of Virginia where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He served in the U.S. Government for 25 years where he worked as an analyst, supervisor of analysts, and an instructor for analysts. After retiring, he has continued to work as an instructor for the military and several government agencies where he teaches a variety of communication skills including analytic writing, briefing and public speaking, and supervisor-employee communication. He is married and has two daughters.

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