Teen members of Trinity United Methodist Church set aside part of their summer to serve others.

Teen members of Trinity United Methodist Church set aside part of their summer to serve others.

In June, high school students traveled to Mon Valley, Pa., on a five-day mission trip.

Last week, students in grades 6-8 participated in the church's annual Middle School Mission Week.

"Each day during the week we went to a different site in and around the community and volunteered at different places," said Brian Edwards, Trinity's director of youth and young adult ministry.

On Monday, students spent time at the Westminster-Thurber Community nursing home, where they made room visits, helped residents fill out surveys and played a balloon volleyball game with the senior citizens in the nursing home's cafeteria, Edwards said.

Students made 50 pizzas Tuesday night and delivered them with salads and drinks to the Friends of the Homeless shelter, he said. Wednesday's mission was a trip to the United Methodist Free Store, where students performed tasks including sorting clothes and shoes.

On Thursday, students worked around the church taking care of tasks that were needed since Trinity's maintenance worker has been out due to surgery, Edwards said.

The week wrapped up Friday with a visit to the free clothing store at New Life United Methodist Church.

"We tried to come up with a mix of volunteer work because different kids have different volunteer interests," Edwards said. "Some of them like working with the senior citizens at the nursing home and others like working at the free store."

During the high school mission trip in June, students ran a vacation Bible school for elementary age children in Mon Valley, completed minor repairs at apartment housing for needy families and operated a basketball camp for youngsters, Edwards said.

The spirit of the mission opportunities is best summed up in Matthew Chapter 20, he said.

"In that chapter, Jesus says, 'I didn't come to be served. I came to serve,'" Edwards explained. "This mission work is a chance for the young members of our church to live out our faith and to serve others."

Students feel good about being able to help others at a time when many youngsters are simply taking it easy hanging out at the pool, the mall or at the movie theater, he said.

Seventh-grader Rebekah Jones said she most enjoyed working at the free store.

"It made me feel good to help people who can't afford to buy clothing," she said. "It's so rewarding to help people who can't fend for themselves."

The experience helps her appreciate her good fortune to have what she has, Jones said.

Eighth-grader Allison Voelker said the visit to Westminster-Thurber was particularly special to her because her grandmother used to live there.

"It helped make it easier for me to connect to the people there," she said. "They really enjoy just sitting with young people and talking about their memories from when they were young.

"I just felt good being able to do some good deeds," Voelker said.