Young people from across the United States and close to home have worked in Rutherford County during the past six weeks. This week the YouthWorks teams wrap up their summer mission assignments across the county.
YouthWorks mission trips are Christ-centered youth mission trips and for the past few years, Rutherford County has hosted several teams.
While in Rutherford County this summer the young people volunteered at numerous nonprofit organizations as well worked with the YMCA school summer camps for the Rutherford County Schools.
During the week of July 18-22 a 17-member team of youth ages 13-15 years ago volunteered at several locations, ending their week's work at Washburn Community Outreach Center and at the Habitat ReStore on Thursday.
Later that evening the youth helped serve to-go meals prepared at the Spindale United Methodist Church for anyone wanting a free supper meal.
Before departing the county on Friday, the teens had a sightseeing trip to Lake Lure, Chimney Rock and took a whitewater rafting trip.
From west Minnesota, the 17 youth and adult chaperones flew out of Asheville back home on Saturday morning. For them, traveling by van would have meant about 20 hours, so they opted to fly.
This is the first year the six collaborative churches in the west Minnesota area have worked with YouthWorks in this area.
"I thought it would be fun," said Truett Richards as his reason for joining the group. He wasn't disappointed.
At the Habitat Restore on Wednesday, store manager Wanda Harris said the youth were able to get so many projects completed that needed to be done and yet staff didn't have the time.
"We are so glad. They got so many things done around here we needed to get done," said Harris.
Heather Black and the co-leader Amy Doughtery coordinated the Youth from Minnesota and sat down to lunch with them at the Habitat ReStore where they talked about organizing wood, tile, baskets and "even helped customers."
For the Minnesota team it was a first trip for all 17 to North Carolina but all said they wouldn't mind to come back.
Grace Wenner of Virginia has coordinated the YouthWorks volunteers this summer as approximately 30 separate groups have volunteered in Rutherford County.
There were usually four or five groups each week spending their days helping in numerous places.
All youth groups were housed at the Spindale United Methodist Church which was very accommodating, said one adult.
Young people came from Texas, Florida, South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and a few others.
Each came with a desire to help others, they said.
Some of their projects have been with Ruff'ton Roots, Habitat ReStore, YMCAs summer school, Rutherford Housing Partnerships, Carolina Climbers, Dreaming Stone, the Rutherford County Senior Center, Salvation Army Thrift Store, Chase Corner Ministries, Washburn Community Outreach Center, BASICS Ministries and many others as well as projects with individual members of the community.
In the community the youth did yard work, painted, cleaned and other jobs at individual homes.
"They have all had a 'trooper' attitude, an amazing group of youth," said Black.
Tyler Reed, youth pastor in New Braunfeis, Texas, brought his youth group to Rutherford County in June.
After the 15-hour church van ride to Spindale, they were ready to get to work quickly. During the time here the Texas group worked at the senior center, built a deck with Rutherford Housing Partnership volunteers and worked at two food pantries.
From Illinois young people worked at Ruffton Roots in Rutherfordton one day in what was described as the Great Potato Dig 2022.
The 24 volunteers dug 1,100 pounds of potatoes in about two and a half hours.
Many hands really did make a light load," said a volunteer with Ruff'ton Roots.
The harvest of 1,100 pounds of potatoes will be distributed after curing to hundreds of people across Rutherford County.
"Thank you to everyone who came out and contributed to our community potato patch project - whether by planting, weeding, hilling, digging or sorting for curing," said a spokesperson from the community garden.
At Chase Corner Ministries one Wednesday youth from Illinois, Gina Wisdom, Michelle Cerny, Katy Guthrie, Donovan Cies, did yard maintenance while other YouthWorks volunteers helped distribute food boxes and worked in thrift stores.
St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem sent a group of their youth two weeks ago.
They sorted clothes at the Habitat Restore and did other jobs, including paving the parking lot at the Habitat ReStore off Wester Main Street.
"We talked about the way technology has changed over the years and a history lesson about music. It has been a great week," said a leader from St. Anne's in Winston-Salem.
Anita Behrns, director at the Washburn Community Outreach Center, praised their work stating they were able to get so many done at the pantry and thrift store that needed to be done.
They also packed literally hundreds of food boxes at all the pantries that were distributed to the food insecure in Rutherford County.
Before leaving after their week's work all the groups visited Chimney Rock where they shopped and did some hiking.