Difference Makers: One load of wood at a time

Dan and I made reservations three weeks in advance. They’re only open Saturday mornings and they fill up quickly.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The organization is brilliant. Signage indicates where to check in. And masks are required. 

When it’s your turn, volunteers help toss firewood into your rig while crews of log-splitters work to replenish the piles.

It’s Nativity Lutheran’s Wood Lot Ministry, designed to provide firewood for people who can’t typically afford it.

Dan and I were there this past Saturday to pick up and deliver a load of wood to a single mom on disability whose husband has been in and out of the picture.

These volunteers don’t know our friend and her three children. Still, they work year-round to provide her—and so many others like her—with a generous gift of wood heat.

The story behind the story

The Wood Lot Ministry began delivering firewood to homeless camps in 2005. Two years later, it came under the umbrella of Nativity Lutheran Church, and Richard Berg got involved as Volunteer Coordinator.

The ministry eventually expanded to provide firewood to low-income families and fixed-income seniors.

Nativity Lutheran Wood Lot partners with another local church. “There’s acreage behind Seventh Day Adventist that’s covered with logs [laid out to dry],” said Berg.

It can’t be just one church. It’s a partnership, given the volume we’re dealing with.

Volunteers work through the summer and beyond to build the inventory up to where it should be.  

Berg indicated that the average cost of a cord of firewood these days is $250. “There are roughly 890 trips through the lot each season or 270-300 cords of wood provided each year for those need.”

If we did the math, that’s $67,000-75,000 distributed in wood heat to people who might have to choose between buying groceries or keeping their families warm.


Photo courtesy of Wood Lot Ministry
Photo courtesy of Wood Lot Ministry

What if …

Mother Teresa said something that encourages me when I feel overwhelmed by the needs around me:

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

Love is a verb, an action word. 

If we can’t split and deliver firewood to every cold person in our area, what if we could be part of a team that makes a dent in the need?

Or what if we put our love into action by serving at a homeless kitchen, or organizing a craft project for homeschoolers, or writing notes to those who are shut-in during this COVID holiday season?

This wisdom from the book of 1 John:

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

What if we looked for opportunity to show love in action—not only during the holiday season, but year-round?

Pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to contain all the joy. 

Wood Lot contact info: If you live in central Oregon and are interested in helping with the Wood Lot Ministry … or you’d like to see something similar operating in your area, contact Richard Berg at 541-598-6029.


Is joy a choice?


Did we reach our goal of 500 miles in 2020?


  1. Peter

    Sorry for being absent for a couple of weeks.. Loved this read, so too the recent ones in past weeks. We’re all born with a purpose, be it love thy neighbour.. do for others as you would wish others to do for you etc. I guess some folk don’t know what their purpose is, but a bit of lateral thinking and soon they could be the person who can help others, in some way. I thought, ‘It was a good idea at the time’ when a teenager to help in some small way (and I think it was to go shopping for older folk). But that ‘good idea’ has provided me with the means, throughout my life to ‘look outside the box’ and come up with a something that helps someone.. and the personal reward of joy and happiness suddenly shows up in that warm satisfied feeling in my/your lives. I guess too, my occupation was total in service of the community, so that’s not a bad apprenticeship!. I mentioned in lock down 1, about helping to fix, repair, re-build bikes for folk.. that total is presently 41.. there is no way, I could have imagined being able to help in this small way.. ‘but the joy and thankfulness has connected with others’. I couldn’t know that I might be asked to ‘Do 2 Zoom carol singing gigs’ for Stroke Association… but I did and what a buzz, I feel truly blessed and thankful. I introduced new Christmas Carols (words written by a friend as poems, then put to a tune by yours truly).. folks loved them, so I was asked for CD/DVD’s of the recordings (WHICH I HADN’T EVEN THOUGHT OF). So, on Tuesday, they were recorded/video’d….. AND folk want to buy copies (knowing all funds will go to our chosen supported causes). No one knows ‘what is around the corner’.. ‘who it is that can’t ask for help’ etc, but we can be alert with our intuitiveness and ‘love for our neighbour’…. who ever or where ever they may be. Our love, ‘keep doing what you do best’. Praying 2021 will be kinder to all mankind in our love for each brother and sister, in Jesus name, we ask it. God Bless you and your readers. Barbara, Peter & family.

    • Well said, Peter: “…’look outside the box’ and come up with a something that helps someone … be alert with our intuitiveness.” You live this well. Blessings to you and Barbara during this holiday season.

      • Peter

        Thanks Marlys & Barbara… We’re truly uplifted in these dark days by the ‘spirit of mankind’ in the many examples of sharing, doing, being there, we can Trust in the Lord, not just our own understanding, for He will never leave us…… An angel arrived yesterday, a knitted one.. beautiful, it flew straight onto our Christmas tree.. just a reminder that Angels are all about us, and they are not all beautifully winged mysteries.. often they are those caring, close at hand strangers who become friends. Amen dear friends over the pond!. Stay safe, well & happy. Bx P & family.

  2. Barbara

    God bless you, Peter and Barbara, along with Dan & Marlys. You gave my heart a warm smile! Thank you.

  3. Barbara

    Certainly very true, Marlys, you may speak for me anytime, especially when it has to do with love near and far.

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