For three very full days, whether traveling down the road in Harrells or flying to New York City, Harrells Christian Academy students rolled up their sleeves to help people in need.
The school’s annual “C-Mester” projects help students live out the Christian call to service in real-world settings. This year those settings included hurricane relief efforts, an urban garden, multiple food banks, a senior center, two Christian camps, a trailer offering showers to the homeless, an afterschool mentoring ministry, and a public park.
Closest to home, the town of Harrells welcomed 25 students to its senior center and public park. This is the fourth year that Harrells students have provided significant cleaning and repair assistance to the park. At the senior center, five students organized a painting class for residents.
Over in Chinquapin, where Hurricane Matthew’s devastation still affects many homes, roads, and businesses, 30 students assisted the Eastern Baptist Association’s Long Term Recovery Group in painting and installing new molding in area homes. HCA’s Head of Student Life Rev. Aaron Smith served with this group.
“We had the opportunity to help someone get back into their home,” Smith said. “Painting drywall may not seem like a huge thing to do, but it’s huge to someone who hasn’t been in their home in six months.”
Camp Kirkwood in Watha and Camp Rockfish Meadows in Rose Hill received much needed painting and landscaping help from a total of 50 HCA student volunteers. Maintenance work was also a focus for the twenty students who served at Enlighten the World Ministries in Clinton; in addition, these students conducted a food and diaper drive.
Beyond the four county area, ministries in Wilmington and New York City welcomed the assistance of visiting Harrells volunteers. One was Vigilant Hope, a group which seeks to empower the homeless community in Wilmington. Under the guidance of Vigilant Hope, eleven students made and served breakfast at the Epworth Methodist Church morning soup kitchen; transplanted collards and planted onions at Urban Garden of Wilmington; made and served sandwiches for guests at the shower trailer ministry at Lake Forest Baptist, and at The Lord’s Church, brought donations, cleaned bathrooms, picked up trash, and sorted clothing. The group spent their nights at Winter Park Baptist Church.
In New York, 12 Harrells students set up computers and organized media at the afterschool mentoring ministry Operation Exodus in Brooklyn, served and assisted workers at the New York City Food Bank in Harlem and St. Paul’s Soup Kitchen, and sorted clothing donations at Good + Ministry in Midtown West. They also found time to visit Ellis Island, see a Broadway play, and pray at the 9/11 Memorial.
“As a whole,” Smith says, “C-mester teaches our student to serve, and it pushes them outside their boundaries. Being the hands and feet of Jesus is our goal, and I saw that happening in our students this week.”