NEWTON TWP. — Countryside Community Church’s youth group reciprocated all the support that the congregation gave them by participating in a week-long program called Helping Hands & Hearts. The theme is Better Together: One in Christ.
A total of 33 kids and seven adults, which also consisted of members of Clarks Summit United Methodist Church (UMC), Elm Park UMC in Scranton, Moscow UMC, Kingsley UMC, and Fishburne UMC in Hershey, stayed overnight in Countryside’s cafeteria from August 15-19 to help out neighbors in a 10-to 20-mile radius of the church. They volunteered their time to help old residents and people who couldn’t afford help. They mostly did basic lawn care such as weed pulling and weed whacking. They were split into groups to help different residents on the same day.
“It was fun,” said 12-year-old Jefferson Township resident Hailee Evans.
Her group painted a neighbor’s porch on the first day.
“We all become friends because we worked together,” she said.
One group removed and replaced marble stones around a weed barrier in a neighbor’s backyard.
On the second and last day, kids helped maintain the lawns of Marley’s Mission’s farmland. They cleared the horses’ barns as well as pulled weeds and dead flowers around the barns and vegetable gardens. They also maintained the farm’s main entrance and veterans area, in which they plan to place flowers in September. Kids also got to see and pet some of the horses in the stables.
After work each day, the youth groups all went to lunch at Countryside Community Church and to Dunmore’s YMCA for showers. The kids were awarded for their hard work with an afternoon of fun activities. One day, they went swimming at McDade Park. Another afternoon, they played wet, messy games outside the church. During the last day, they played miniature golf at Red Barn Village. They then came back to Countryside for dinner, which was served by church teams and youth parents. They served them breakfasts in the morning as well.
Last year, Countryside Community Church’s youth group traveled to Damascus United Methodist Church to volunteer helping neighbors of that church. This year, church members Sal Sollami and Debbie Doran, who both started Helping Hands & Hearts, decided to bring this mission to their home church to help the members of their congregation.
“I really enjoy it because people come back from previous years and there are new people that hear about it through word of mouth,” said 17-year-old Will Cardone, of Ransom. “It helps the work get done really fast.”
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