South Carolina teen uses wagons to share Christ at local hospitals
When 6-year-old Gracey Chaffin’s friend was diagnosed with leukemia, she knew God would want her to help. Six years later, that urge to help has grown into a nonprofit organization impacting the greater Augusta region.
Gracey had just graduated to children’s church at Midland Valley Church of the Nazarene in Graniteville, South Carolina, located roughly 30 minutes north of Augusta, when her friend Julia was diagnosed in 2013.
“They were talking about kindness [in children’s church] and how you should help others,” Gracey said. “After that, it just kind of got in my head and it wouldn’t get away from me.”
Gracey and her mother decided to donate their hair for a wig for Julia, but Gracey felt like there was more to do. She started selling baked goods, among other things, to raise money for the hospital. When she contacted the hospital about donating the money they had raised, the administration asked if Gracey would purchase wagons for the children.
The Augusta hospital uses wagons instead of wheelchairs to take the children around the hospital to make the experience less intimidating. That was where Lil G’s Wagons of Hope was born. Gracey started fundraising and purchased 13 wagons filled with 1,300 items. Over the last six years, the organization has donated 430 wagons and more than 25,000 toys and other items.
Gracey says her faith inspires her to keep up the donations and fundraising to help children in need.
“My faith motivates me to continue doing this because I know that I’m helping out children and I’m showing Christ to other people,” Gracey said. “Knowing how much Jesus loves kids, it’s just kind of grown in my heart that I need to be [like Christ].”
The Midland Valley Church has supported the Chaffins in many ways, including praying over Gracey and the wagons as they go out for donation.
“We load them up, get around the wagons, and pray over the wagons,” said Gracey’s father, Thadd Chaffin. “Gracey prays for each individual [wagon], for healing and that God’s presence to fill the wagon every time a child gets into the wagon.”
Gracey and her family have turned the organization into their ministry. This summer, Gracey again felt the Lord tugging at her heart during a district-wide youth event.
“One of the nights they talked about what we wanted to do when we grow up and how the future can affect us,” Gracey said. “[They had] anybody who wanted to come down to the altar to pray about what they wanted to do when they grew up. I’ve never known what I wanted to do, so I just got down there, and sat and prayed. There was this huge feeling of ‘I need to go into the ministry.’”
Gracey feels a pull towards children’s ministry and hopes to explore her call in the future as she continues helping others through Lil G’s Wagons of Hope.