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Friendship students reach out to man in need

Mary Hinds • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Students at Friendship Christian School are given a lot of opportunities to put their Christian values to work with various projects.

Teacher Greg Armstrong heads up Run4Water, a nonprofit organization designed to bring awareness and provide solutions to the water crisis in the world today. Run4Water currently works in places as far away as Honduras and Haiti, and as close to home as Sneedville. It was during one of the group's trips to Sneedville that Friendship students came across a man who needed their help.

"It started last Thanksgiving in 2011," Armstrong said. "We were delivering meals to needy families, and two girls came back with tears in their eyes. They were just distraught."

They were upset about the conditions Jimmy Booth was living in in Hancock County. Booth may have needed help since he was living in a shack with dirt floors and no running water, but he was reluctant to accept it.

"He was a real mountain hermit," he said. "He was so proud. It was not the most pleasant experience. We told him we wanted to help, but he wouldn't have it. It took two or three visits before he would let us help. He was very leery of strangers, but we didn't give up on him."

Armstrong said it took a while, but the Friendship students finally got to him.

"You could see his heart melt," he said.

The students were able to use funds raised by Run4Water to buy a FEMA trailer and stock it with food and a few necessities. They also visited the trailer, which was at the school before it was delivered, and went inside to say prayers for Booth that the trailer would be the beginning of an easier life for the man.

"[The trailer] was delivered on Saturday; it was really neat that we were able to help him out," Armstrong said.

To come from a house with a dirt floor to one with a microwave was a difficult transition for Booth.

"It was a bit overwhelming for him," Armstrong said. "He said 'I don't know if I can sleep in here tonight. I'm too dirty.'"

Booth has electricity in his new home, and Armstrong said he was busy experimenting with the remote control on the heater the group gave him.

"He couldn't believe he wouldn't have to cut firewood," Armstrong said.

Next, the group plans to help Booth get running water.

"It's a big adjustment for him."

For more information about Run4Water, or to donate to its work, contact Armstrong at 615-642-6863.

Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 45 or maryhinds@lebanondemocrat.com.

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