Churches, youths working to help less fortunate residents at 2nd annual work camp

By PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer

June 11, 2008 - The 2nd Annual "Eat, Sleep and Serve" Work Camp '08 for youth of all denominations has been set for Sunday, June 29, through Thursday, July 3.

The Sulphur Springs Work Camp is a combined effort of the leadership in student ministries of First United Methodist Church, Wesley Methodist Church, St. James Catholic Church, Davis Street Baptist Church and Shannon Oaks Church.

Approximately 150 youths from the area will be volunteering their time to do small carpentry repairs, painting and scraping, as well as yard work such as edging, mowing and e planting plants, shrubs, and flowers for those in need of a little extra help.

"This teaches our kids a sense of community," said Linda Rascoe, one of last year's crew leaders, who said they have at least five local widows on their list this year. "This makes them aware that there are people out there who need help and don't have the resources to get it. Sometimes people have no family to help take care of them."

Work Camp '08 is considered a legitimate mission trip, according to Brian Cromer, youth and family minister at Shannon Oaks Church, who organized the event last year in hopes of making it an annual affair.

"Some churches don't have the resources to go off on mission trips to places like Honduras or New York," he explained. "This gives every teenager a chance to get that mission trip experience, only right here at home."

Area youths signed up for the four-night event will be working with 10 to15 other students ranging from 6th to12th graders working on 12 area homes.

"Last year's Work Camp surpassed all our expectations," Cromer raved. "All the houses looked great. It was awesome."

Crews will start their day at 8 a.m. at Shannon Oaks Church by meeting for breakfast and a morning devotional. The work day will finish around 4 p.m. when the boys and girls go back to their designated churches to clean up before gathering again at Shannon Oaks for dinner and worship service.

Boys will be staying at First United Methodist Church, and girls will stay at Wesley Methodist Church.

Rascoe, who this year is in charge of food distribution for the volunteers, said they will be providing sack lunches at the noon hour, as well as morning and evenings meals.

"We are still in need of donations of breakfast items and everything from hamburger and hot dog fixings to other things to feed these kids," she said. "The first night will be a pot luck provided by members of Shannon Oaks."

Cromer, who has been with Shannon Oaks for the past four years, said he feels that God put this local mission on his heart not only to help those in need, but to unify churches in the community.

"This gives teenagers a chance to go out and make a difference, not only in the world, but in our community, while at the same time setting an example of unity to adults," he explained. "We don't focus on our denominational differences. We focus on the one thing that is most important and what we have in common -- Jesus Christ."

Anyone who would like to volunteer or donate food items can call 903-885-6542.

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