Mission accomplished: Church’s youth give back during SOS week

Dozens of area children set out on a mission this week to provide service to the community. Mission accomplished.

Participants in St. John Nepoumuk Catholic Church’s Soldiers of Service Camp took the name of the camp to a new level, volunteering at a variety of nonprofit organizations, including the Regional Food Bank, a horse stable, the Center of Family Love and the Veterans Museum.

“They are learning how to volunteer and be of service to others,” said Teri Carroll, a volunteer working the children, who ranged in age from 10 to 15.

The program is focused on middle school students. There were 52 participants this year.

Tom Thomas, the assistant curator at the museum, said the volunteer labor was beneficial.

“They come in and donate a couple of hours cleaning. We volunteer our time to come in and open the museum, so sometimes we don’t get a chance to do these kinds of things,” Thomas said.

Thursday, the volunteers were sweeping, mopping and doing a little dusting. Everyone appeared to be having a good time.

Luke Bannister, a sophomore who is serving as a volunteer leader this year, said the kids get an opportunity to learn that volunteering can be a blessing.

“They learn that it is a good feeling that we are helping other people, and they are doing it for good,” he said. “The younger kids get to see how they help people.”

Earlier in the week, the group had gone to The Center of Family Love, where the volunteers played bingo and made handcrafted door hangers for the residents.

“They experience something new working with them. They learn the experience is difficult, and not everyone’s lives are the same,” Bannister said.

“They had to work, and that’s good for them,” he said.

Carroll agreed.

“It was a great learning experience for our kiddos,” she said.

Thursday afternoon, the group was scheduled to work together creating “blessing bags” that will be given to the community’s homeless population.

The bags contain some toiletry items, as well as snacks, socks and a small amount of cash.

“It is a great experience for them for the fact that they realize how truly blessed they are, and that there are so many who are less fortunate than themselves. Even as young as they are, they realize they can really help,” Carroll said.

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