Our youth had an incredible week last week. And while it sounds cliche, our students really did make a difference in our city last week. They finished mission projects with such efficiency that we had to work hard to find more projects for them to complete! But even more than that, they served with generosity and joy — it was a beautiful thing to behold. And it was so special to have our first big event back together. Multiplied students and parents shared about how meaningful it was to be back and appreciated that we shifted to make this event a possibility.

Here’s a list of all the projects completed at our various worksites in just a few days:

Wesley House Community Center
– hosted a virtual Walk-a-thon to raise funds for the capital campaign
– spent time in classrooms and playing with students
– sorted and labeled close to 2000 library books
– built new shelves for library storage
– took inventory on hundreds of school supplies and sorted for the upcoming school year’s distribution
– created a resource closet in the library for student supplies
– cleaned and organized the stage and gym storage
– provided storage solutions for storage areas
– provided daily lunches and field trips
– cleaned Wesley House vehicles inside and out
– set up a music room
– assisted with donation room and multipurpose room

Operation Backyard
– built parts for handicap ramps to serve at least 7 Knoxville homeowners
– built storage shelves and work tables for the OBY warehouse
– cleaned the OBY warehouse

Beacon of Hope
– sorted and labeled all food co-op items
– cleaned and organized food pantry area
– sorted all toiletries
– cleaned and set up a children’s area with a children’s library

Church Street Missions
– packed hygiene kits
– packed Blessing Bags
– packed disaster relief kits for UMCOR
– made laundry detergent for Sharing Shop and Beacon of Hope
– sorted Sharing Shop items
– wrote notes to homebound church members

Emerald Youth
– packed incentive goody bags for students
– packed STEAM kits
– cleaned gym and bleachers
– cleaned concession stand and took inventory on items
– cleaned and reset rec room

Wesley Foundation at UTK
– cleaned and organized storage areas
– cleaned and worked in kitchen
– prepared walls and bulletin boards for fall semester info

Church Street Youth
– cleaned all common areas and kitchen
– set Sunday school rooms for fall semester
– prepared mailings for all students

Making a Difference (MAD) in the City is Church Street Youth’s annual summer mission project. This project is focused on serving Knoxville and is a longstanding partnership with the Wesley House Community Center. Historically, we have spent time each summer with Wesley House students by providing academic support with one-on-one schoolwork, playing games, going on field trips, and working on building projects.

This year, in order to honor COVID protocols, we are adding other service projects to the week to keep our groups smaller and support our city in even more ways. This summer, our youth will:

  • Continue in our partnership with Wesley House,
  • complete a house-roofing project, and
  • work with Beacon of Hope to help them prepare for a new school year.

Our students will be rotating between the three work sites during the days. In the afternoons & evenings, we will join together back at Church Street for fellowship, dinner, and worship before pick-up.

One new addition to the week is supporting Wesley House’s Walk-a-thon fundraiser to help with their capital campaign! Wesley House is currently working through the rigorous process of becoming licensed with the Department of Human Services. This will allow them to better serve the East Knoxville community in a wide variety of ways. The pandemic has shifted the way Wesley House operates and serves, like becoming a Food Pantry in addition to all of their other work.

Becoming licensed will open so many doors for this incredible group, but getting there requires substantial updates to their building. The Walk-a-thon fundraiser will help with getting their building up to code — a huge priority to help this ministry continue serving the community!

Our youth group will be doing a walk through Downtown Knoxville on Sunday, July 11 as part of our kick-off to MAD in the City.

Our goal in this Walk-a-thon is to raise $2500 for WHCC. Make a gift here.

Our week looks a little different than is has in the past, but it is also SO exciting to think about how much we can accomplish during this time! Our youth are generous with their time and energy each summer so that we can commit to serving the Knoxville community well. One of the verses we return to over and over again is James 1:22, which reminds us to be doers of the word, not just hearers. When our faith changes our hearts, it calls us to action. And this summer, we are answering that call by serving our city with joy!
Contact Jenny Cross at jcross@churchstreetumc.org with any questions.