A Virginia church that spends summers helping people in need will be in Millville this year to assist what they say is a special group of people.

Officials with Gayton Baptist Church say they will bring 75 high school students and 25 adults to the Holly City to repair the homes of needy veterans.

The youths and adults will repair roofs, replacing siding and windows, paint homes, clean yards and build decks and ramps for the handicapped to "make homes safer and easier to access," said Caleb Foust, the church's associate pastor of youth.

"This is a great opportunity for high school students to give back to the community, to develop vocational skills and to build leadership skills," he said. "While the time spent in Millville will be brief, the memories will last a lifetime."

The Gayton Baptist Church members will be in the city from July 20 through 26. The advance team will arrive on July 18.

While the visit is still months away, the church must have requests from needy veterans by March 28. Veterans can call Diana Pitman, Cumberland County's veterans affairs director, at 856-453-2239, or Samantha Fisher of Millville's Department of Public Affairs at 856-825-7000, ext. 7288, for a project request form.

The program is scheduled to be officially announced at tonight's City Commission meeting by City Commissioner Lynne Porreca Compari.

Foust said the church picked Millville in part because it is Cumberland County, which has the lowest per-capital annual income of any county in New Jersey. The U.S. Census Bureau sets that income at $21,833. New Jersey's per capita annual income is $35,928, according to the Census Bureau.

The visiting church members will use Holly Heights Elementary School as their base while in Millville, Foust said.

The visit is an example of cooperation between the city and county governments and the municipality's school district, he said.

Officials with the church, which is based in Richmond, said they have been doing the helping visits and outreach ministry in the United States and Canada for the past 20 years.

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