Service Projects Take Youth Beyond Campus Borders to Share with Others

Photo by Glenn Riegel

On a blisteringly hot Monday, willing volunteers from the 2014 National Youth Conference were spread from the Colorado State University campus beyond to the greater Fort Collins and Loveland areas, working at indoor and outdoor projects.

“This is what we do because we’re the church,” one of the youth noted. “This is really important.”

Work took place on and off campus

Beside a window in the lower level of the Moby Arena, a group of 20 youth and advisors sorted health kits and canned goods that had been donated during worship. They stood around a long table, checking contents of the kits and pulling out extra items to build new ones.

“We chose to sign up for this service project because we like helping others,” said Justin Kier. And even with an injured ankle, Gabe Hernandez used his crutches to work alongside his teammates.

Another, larger group of volunteers walked down the street to the Geller Center for Spiritual Development, a non-profit that specifically focuses on creating space to encourage spiritual health for college students. They stained outdoor furniture, mowed the lawn, prepped a fundraising letter, and completed housed cleaning projects. “They did an incredible job mopping floors,” said Laura Nelson, director of the center. “This group is incredible!” While folding and stuffing envelopes, Olivia Hawbecker said she enjoys, “Helping with whatever needs to be done to help keep our world beautiful. And it’s fun to remember there are kind people who want to help!”

Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Several more service project workers went to the Turning Point, a 40-year-old nonprofit that exists to help at-risk teens and their families who have suffered from trauma or abuse. “We help kids who have had a hard upbringing,” said director Scott VonBargen. “But these NYCers are good kids, and we appreciate them being here.” Volunteers planted bushes in the front of the building, and scraped paint off a shed in the back. “I like being outside,” said Colleen Murphy, one of the youth. “So I thought this would be fun!”

“You never know what you’ll find in a thrift shop,” said Kayla Means, who was serving with another group at Arc Thrift in Fort Collins. The youth unloaded and hung up clothes from more than 15 “melons,” which are large containers that hold about 400 articles of clothing each. “The store was completely empty when we got here,” said Paula Elsworth, a youth advisor. “But now it was filled with racks of hanging clothes!” Gerta Thompson, the merchandise manager for Arc Thrift, sung the praises of the NYC volunteers. “They did an awesome job!”

At an environmental landscaping project supported by the local industrial parks, a group of youth and advisors set to work replanting trees, great and small, in an effort that will help moderate the temperatures around the several ponds in the area.

Another group, consisting of youth from Pennsylvania and Indiana, worked so fast at the Arc Thrift store in Loveland that the store’s employee assigned to supervise them expressed amazement that they brought so much enthusiasm to the task that they finished far earlier than expected. The youth were found resorting clothes on the rack according to color and size. “It’s fun to be taking our turn to help other people out,” said one youth. “It will be easier for them to find what they need.” Another added, “We’re helping out the community.” However, when asked if there was anything they felt like buying, members of these youth groups were unanimous that they bought name brands.

Photo by Glenn Riegel

One group was dropped off at a warehouse owned by a theater in Fort Collins, and were set to a number of tasks. One group of girls opened big tubs of paint to see if they were still useful. “I’m learning what a hammer’s for,” said one, who grimaced, then pried open a particularly stubborn can.

Six youth sorted shoes, coats, belts, and dresses that would be used in plays and operas. “We’re really contributing to the cultural life of Fort Collins,” one said. Items that were unusable were thrown out. When asked if this would help her throw out her old clothes back home, another youth laughed. “Are you kidding? Now I think I’m a hoarder.”

Overall, the youth assigned to indoor work on this very hot day seemed to be doing very well, while those working on outdoor assignments required the five-gallon water jugs and bottles of water they carried.

— Frank Ramirez and Mandy J. Garcia of the NYC News Team produced this report.

NYC 2014 News Team: Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services. Eddie Edmonds, NYC Tribune editor. Photography: Glenn Riegel, Nevin Dulabaum.Writers: Frank Ramirez, Mandy Garcia. Question of the day: Britnee Harbaugh, Maddie Dulabaum. Web and app support: Don Knieriem, Russ Otto.

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