Clay County, AL

"Community matters to Clay County"

Meet Eli Sims. When he was diagnosed with cancer, the whole community rallied around him and his family. (Credit: Kaitlyn Glenn)

Clay County leads Alabama in the highest number of National Guard volunteers and is known as the Volunteer County of Alabama because of this and always being ready to lend others a hand in their time of need.

About a year ago, a little boy, 21 months old, named Eli Sims, the son of Jason and Kelcey Sims of Barfield (a small Clay County community), was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma (liver cancer) which metastasized to his lungs. In order to help support the family, the whole county rallied around them and held prayer meetings, fundraisers, made donations, and a 5k race. Eli was also the grand marshall of the Ashland Christmas Parade and was made an honorary firefighter by the Ashland Volunteer Fire Department along with his two older brothers. Just after his third birthday, Eli passed away, and the county once again rallied around the family. Hundreds attended the visitation and funeral, and many lined the road with signs from the funeral home to Barfield Baptist Church where the funeral was held to show the family their love and support.

Clay County residents in a prayer circle pulling for a local boy with a very serious illness. (Credit: Kaitlyn Glenn)

Each summer, the youth from the churches in the county spend a week participating in Clay Changers. Clay Changers goes out into the towns and communities and works at the hospital, other organizations, and on houses of the elderly and disabled who can not fix up their houses themselves. This ranges anywhere from painting the structure, planting flowers, to replacing the roof. Ashland, which is the the county seat, also holds Ashland Fun Days every second Saturday of the month where vendors sell their wears, and citizens gather together to participate in games, and other activities.

Clay County is known as Alabama’s top county for volunteerism. Here, Clay Changers, are seen taking a break from helping out. (Credit: Kaitlyn Glenn)

More Information

Prayers for Eli Sims

Saying Goodbye to Our Hero

December 8 Is Eli Sims Day

Clay Changers on Instagram