September 23, 2013
Junior Sutton Norris Establishes Wood for Warriors
Chop, split, stack. Chop, split, stack. Chop, split, stack.
This is the sound Prince Avenue Christian School junior Sutton Norris hears most Saturday mornings. It is the sound of the new community ministry Wood for Warriors, which he started to raise funds needed to purchase electric off-road wheelchairs for wounded veterans.
Last year, Sutton was looking for opportunities to serve and minister in his community when his uncle showed him two action-track, electric, off-road wheelchairs that had been provided to wounded veterans through donations to the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that helps provide financial assistance to injured and critically ill members of the Armed Forces.
This idea inspired Sutton, who combined his passions – love for Christ, patriotism, and a desire to help others – to create Wood for Warriors to locate, chop, and sell wood in order to raise money to purchase these wheelchairs. Through his leadership, many of his classmates and friends can often be found working with him on Saturdays.
“I want to go in the military one day. I don’t know what God has in store for me, but I know that could be me, that I could be wounded . . . I love my freedom, and I can’t imagine having that freedom taken away from me. To see the veterans regain some of their freedom with a wheelchair is just awesome.”
The first $4500 raised by Wood for Warriors is going to help a veteran who is paralyzed from her mid-core down. Each Saturday morning, when they head out to cut and chop wood, Sutton and his friends are inspired by their desire to help this young woman. “We wake up early on Saturdays, and work at least until lunch time. Sometimes we will keep working after lunch. It feels like a sacrifice when we first wake up, but time really flies when we get out there and spend time together getting the work done.”
Sutton has not yet met the veteran who will receive the first wheelchair provided through Wood for Warriors, but he is looking forward to presenting her with the money in October and meeting her in person. “I know that we are only providing a fraction of what she needs in her life, but it will be really cool to meet somebody that we are helping, and to see something that God is doing through us – on our own we can’t do anything good. It’s all what God is doing.”
Sutton has seen that same testimony in action in his relationship with some of his teachers and coaches at Prince Avenue Christian School. He says that Prince Avenue teachers and coaches teach from example. He has especially seen that example in his Bible teacher Billy Meeks, who he says is a role model. “Coach Meeks,” says Sutton, “has helped me to see that as a Christian, I am to be aggressive in my faith and to take life by the reins. A lot of people think you can’t be a Christian and a soldier, but Coach Meeks has helped me to see that God calls us all to be soldiers whether that is being out in the fields defending our country or at home defending those we love. We can’t be passive in our faith. That is something I have learned from him.”
When asked about Sutton’s work with Wood for Warriors, military veteran Billy Meeks described Sutton as a model student longing to serve the nation that he loves. “Sutton is passionate about America being a land of good, truth, and beauty – a nation that will continue to uphold the lofty and God-fearing ideals of her founding fathers. He is willing to sacrifice that we might be better.”
And sacrifice he has! Saturday mornings are usually his only free time in a schedule full of academic, athletic, and church commitments, but Sutton and his friends plan to continue working with Wood for Warriors well beyond the time it takes to raise money for the first wheelchair. Sutton will continue until he graduates and then pass responsibility for the organization to his younger brother Forde.
Currently, Wood for Warriors has raised $2250 of the $4500 goal. Wood for Warriors can also accept donations for the wheelchairs. A link to Sutton’s Semper Fi Fund account can be found on the Wood for Warriors Facebook page.
With fall and winter approaching, supporters can also purchase firewood from Wood for Warriors.
As they see the light of that fire and feel its warmth, they can know they are helping to fuel the light of God’s love through one student who has a passion to help those hurting and in need.
Prince Avenue students (l-r) Ben Butler, Duncan Taylor, Isaac Power, Sutton Norris, and Walker Boswell have been cutting, splitting and selling wood to raise money to purchase electric off-road wheelchairs for wounded veterans.