Kindness at its finest in reaction to Coal Township burglary
SHAMOKIN - The kindness of friends and the goodwill of strangers was reflected in donations recently made to Restoration Ministries Church.
An anonymous donor took Pastor Paul Eby and church volunteers on a shopping spree at Home Depot in State College on Sunday, gifting them about $8,500 in name brand power tools, hand tools and accessories. The price dropped when Home Depot offered a substantial discount.
Nail guns, generators, power drills, sanders, saws, levels, hammers, measuring tapes and more were all purchased brand new. They were hauled back to Shamokin in a brand new trailer Eby bought for the church thanks to a $4,000 donation from Coal Township residents Gene and Denise Welsh.
A church parishioner who wished to remain anonymous handed over the title and keys to a delivery van, and a former Coal Township resident has offered to donate a Springfield home to the church for a future renovation project. Parishioners turned up with a slew of used tools, too.
All of this came in the days after thousands of dollars worth of tools were stolen from a church-owned double home that is under remodel at 1674-1676 W. Spruce St. The church bought the property and is using the renovation project - turning it from a double into a single - to teach construction skills to young parishioners, many without parents or guardians teaching them such skills. The property was gutted and is being updated inside and outside.
The donations left Eby joyful and overwhelmed.
"Through all this I never asked for anything. We prayed and said, 'God, you restore all,'" Eby said Tuesday inside the church. "When the enemy steals, God restores all."
Rob Oshinskie, a Coal Township native and State College-area resident, has known Eby about 30 years. When he learned of the burglary he reached out to several acquaintances who are contractors. They were impressed when told of the church's youth center and its God's Grub community kitchen program, and also by the effort to teach teens a skilled trade.
"Everyone was like, 'All right, how can I help?'" Oshinskie said.
He put Eby in touch with a friend, the anonymous donor, and they met in State College. John Wallish, a Restoration Ministries parishioner, was with Eby for the trip to Home Depot. They were timid at first when shopping, not knowing how exactly to interpret the man's generosity and not wanting to abuse it.
But the man wasn't shy.
"When I tell you he couldn't wait to help, he was calling me on the phone telling me how much fun we're going to have Sunday morning," Oshinskie said.
When Wallish suggested buying a measuring tape, the man grabbed an entire display box. Eby had his eye on a generator; the man bought three. Wallish picked out a reasonably priced chop saw but the man insisted they get a higher-priced model.
"I was in tears. This is so overwhelming, far beyond anything I could imagine with God blessing us," Wallish said Monday inside the church as he and his sons, George and J.C., picked up some tools to use at the project work site.
"Instead of getting all fired up," Wallish said of when it was discovered the tools were stolen from the site in late November, "we prayed for the person."
Eby was equally grateful to the Welsh family.
"I just thought it was a great program. It's helping the blight in the township and teaching teens some carpentry," Gene Welsh said. "We decided we wanted to help them out."
Oshinskie credited the Welshs, too, and tipped his cap to everyone who helped out. He said it speaks to the core people still living in the Shamokin and Coal Township areas.
"When someone like me talks about the ties to home, it's the people. The ties are really about the people we grew up with and still know. It's pretty awesome the way people stepped up and wanted to do something. Hopefully on some level it can be some sort of rallying cry in the community," Oshinskie said.
The used tools donated to the church will be used to teach teens on their use ahead of sending them to the job site. They'll be better prepared to work on renovations, Eby said.