“They were singing with everything they had,” said Brittney Langley, 16. “Just to know that there’s still that joy within them; it’s such an encouragement to me.”
Her friend Katherine Runells, 17, agreed.
“It just feels really good to help ‘em,” Runells said. “You can see somebody that’s not in really good shape and they still go praising the Lord.”
The girls are part of a new group organized by a newcomer to town who wanted to help the community, but also to teach the girls what it means to love their neighbor.
“If we put in their hearts now compassion and a servant’s heart,” said Ashley Butler, 32. “Then that becomes habit and that becomes passion and that becomes part of who they are.”
Butler, 32, married a Ranburne man almost two years ago and she and her business, Halo Salon, moved to town.
Once she got here, Butler was moved by the amount of need she saw in the county. She felt called to do something about it and Halo Girls was born.
“It started out with me just playing with their hair,” Butler said. “And then, the Lord just kind of laid it on my heart that he had given me girls and he had given me hands and feet and he said, ‘Now go do some work.’”
So in February, Butler put a call out on Facebook for girls from 6 to 18 to volunteer. She took applications and selected 16 girls to help her with a mission to serve the community.
Butler has taken them to volunteer at the nursing home. They raised $500 to donate to the food pantry at HEARTS, Helping Every Area Resident to Succeed, a Cleburne County charity. The girls collected cans of pinto beans for the food pantry. At Ranburne’s Fourth of July celebration, they sold lemonade and ice cream to raise money for Thanksgiving dinners for four local needy families.
Currently the girls are collecting crayons and coloring books which they plan to deliver to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Hospital.
Butler, who has two sons, ages 15 and 3, said she wanted to teach the girls to give back to their own community.
“So many people think that the only way you can do a mission is if you send it to a third-world country,” she said. “Hey, I’ve got a mission field right in front of my doorstep.”
The girls come from many different churches, but share a desire to help others and spread God’s love.
Brooklyn Turner, 14, heard about the group through a friend. She didn’t know what it was, but thought it might be fun. When she found out what Halo Girls was all about, she knew it was an answer to a prayer, Turner said.
“The funny thing is, I had been praying for over a year for God to send me something that I can reach out to the community and help people in need,” Turner said. “I feel like God has sent me here to do that.”
Turner also recruited her mother into the project. Jennifer Turner has become the coordinator for the group. Butler said “delegating” is a skill she’s lacking. She can organize events, but delegating jobs to the girls was difficult for her, Butler said.
Jennifer Turner knows there’s a tremendous amount of need in Cleburne County. She’s seen it in the homeless teens at her church. She wanted her daughter to see it, too. Jennifer Turner got involved to teach the girls recognize the needs of others and to empower them to help, she said.
“We do not want another generation of self-absorbed,” she said.
Staff writer Laura Camper 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.