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Church Donation Creates Excellent Facility

By Staff | Jan 21, 2009

Junior Zach Neff works out on one of the new pieces of equipment donated to the Magnolia High School athletic program by the First Christian Church in New Martinsville. (Photo by Amy Witschey)

There’s such a thing as being a good neighbor and then there’s the kind of great, generous neighbor that the First Christian Church in New Martinsville has been to the athletic department at Magnolia High School.

The congregation recently purchased the property just south of the church that was previously Body Progressions and, to those who know the building by its previous, long-time business, the Wells Funeral Home. The church is using the property for children and teen programs, meeting rooms, TOPS meetings, and soon as the new local location for Wheeling Health Right.

While the First Christian Church wanted to expand their property, parking, and facilities, they didn’t have a use for the many exercise machines that remained in the building. Instead of selling the nearly new equipment and putting the funds to use in another way, the church decided to donate the machines to the athletic department at MHS.

Pastor Bob Brooks, a chaplain for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and general supporter of the school’s students, said the move just made sense. “We wanted to make an investment in the young people,” said Brooks.

Head Football Coach Mark Batton couldn’t be more thankful, saying he couldn’t even put a dollar amount on the items the congregation provided to his program and the school. “I don’t know that anybody has a nicer weight room than we do right now,” said Batton, adding that he has visited many high school weight rooms around the state.

The machines are newer and safer. Previously the students were working out with equipment from the mid-1980s and most of it was handmade.

All the teams at MHS use the room and its equipment, both boys and girls. The room is open for two periods every day to mostly juniors and seniors who can fit the time into their schedule. It is also used during practices after school.

“The students’ expressions when they saw the new equipment was unbelievable,” noted Batton. In fact, he said the improved machines have created a renewed interest in the weight room that is jam-packed with the devices. “We’ve used up about every inch of space,’ said Batton.

While the entire congregation of the First Christian Church deserves credit for the donation, Batton particularly thanks Brooks; Dave Grandstaff, the church’s property chairman; and parishioner Tim Pennell for being key supporters of the gift. Pennell hauled all of the big, bulky, and very heavy equipment from its former location on Maple Avenue to the weight room at the football field. While not a far move, it certainly was difficult.

Pennell used his tractor to lift the machines onto and off of his trailer at each site. “If it wasn’t for him, we would have been in a lot of trouble,” noted Batton. The football coach showed his gratitude to the church recently by attending Sunday services and presenting them with a plaque recognizing their generous donation.

Not only did the church make a donation to the health of the students, but also the teachers. Brooks noted that the church also gave some exercise bicycles and elliptical machines that were placed in a workout room for the school’s staff.