Toccoa Again Hosts MERGE Program

Volunteers from around the state and the region are back in their communities after spending last week in Toccoa for the annual MERGE program.

MERGE took place last week in Toccoa and Stephens County.

The MERGE program is a collaboration between the Georgia Baptist Association, Tugalo Baptist Association, local churches, community groups, and others.

Wade Lott is an Associational Missionary with the Tugalo Baptist Association and part of the MERGE planning team.

He said MERGE rolls a youth camp, missions trip, and community improvement effort all into one.

“We come together to do volunteer work on homes here in the community,” said Lott. “We also serve in some of our community organizations, like the Boys and Girls Club. We have people come in from all over the state to serve in the Toccoa area.”

One of those locations was on Nassau Street, where members of a Baptist church from Kentucky put a new roof on a house and built a wheelchair ramp for the home as well.

Zach Thurmond was one of those who traveled from Kentucky to Toccoa for MERGE this year.

He said his church tries to take trips like this every year, whether it be in the United States or abroad.

“Teach them what it is like to serve others,” said Thurmond. “Life is not about you. It is about God, relationships, serving other people. We teach our students to love God, love people, serve people.”

MERGE has taken place for several years in Stephens County.

Organizers said MERGE could not happen each year without a lot of support from the community in Toccoa and Stephens County.

They said they appreciate all of the donations of lunches for the volunteers and more from individuals, businesses, churches, and civic organizations.