White Springs —
University of Florida graduate assistant Aaron Weiner, supervised by faculty member Professor Kevin Thompson of the Department of Landscape Architecture, was grateful for the perfect weather on Saturday, Feb. 2, as he spent most of the day in White Springs filming the activities of the H.O.P.E. Fuel Bank.
The H.O.P.E. Fuel Bank is a volunteer effort that salvages downed trees throughout the year for home heating during the cold winter days. Volunteers salvage the trees, use personal chain saws to cut the tree trunks and limbs into workable pieces, then use wood splitters to cut the wood into a size that fits home fireplaces.
For elderly and disabled residents, the volunteers even deliver the free wood in a truck that was donated to the fuel bank. Fuel bank coordinator Teddy Bear Marshall said, “It's hard work, but it puts a big smile on everyone's face at the end of the day. Doing good makes you feel good. We have a lot of people who can't afford to heat their homes, so fire wood for the fireplaces helps a lot of people.”
Professor Thompson commented, “The purpose of the documentary video is to teach our students about life in rural Florida, about lifestyles that are based on old fashioned values, like community members working together in support of common goals.” He went on to say, “We have been conducting this oral history project in White Springs for over a year. We have interviewed senior residents about the changes in White Springs over the decades, as well as residents who address today's day-to-day activities.”
New White Springs Town Manager Bob Farley decided to check out the H.O.P.E. Fuel Bank he’d heard so much about since coming on board as town manager.
“I've seen a lot of volunteer community projects throughout Florida, but the H.O.P.E. Fuel Bank is something that is really special,” he said. “I'll do my best to help the volunteers however I can, so that even more residents can be assisted.”
“The H.O.P.E. program was created to assist the community in meeting unmet needs, like education support and recreation, combating hunger, and providing wood to heat homes,”
stated White Springs Mayor Helen Miller. She also said while White Springs today does not have the financial resources to purchase many of the goods and services needed, they do have a community of generous and hard-working volunteers who are willing to work together to make life a little better for their neighbors.
“In pioneer days, an accepted practice and way of life was the ‘barn raising’. If a farming family needed a barn, men from throughout the area worked together to build the barn, women prepared the food, and no money was exchanged,” said Miller. “Our fuel bank is based on the same old fashioned principle. No rocket science, just good old fashioned values.”
The University of Florida documentary video about White Springs will be premiered on Saturday, March 16 during the annual Azalea Festival. Prof. Thompson added that filming will continue through the summer and an updated documentary video will be presented to the Town for its new website.