Wesley Chapel youth group raises funds for Tennessee mission trip
A self-described “recycled teenager,” Jill Ammons and her husband, Darryl, have accompanied middle and high school-age children on eight different mission trips through Reach Workcamps.
The organization coordinates home repair projects for elderly, disabled and low-income families across the country. “Reach is an amazing organization,” Jill Ammons said, “and goes to different places every year.”
Again this summer, the Ammons will travel with dozens of other children from Siler Presbyterian Church in Wesley Chapel, led by Youth Director David Childs. They will go to Tennessee’s Anderson County, where families struggle to make ends meet and where vacant buildings in formerly thriving towns like Oak Ridge await demolition.
During the trip, chaperones and children alike participate in activities that build community and self-esteem and help them understand their role in the fight against poverty, according to the Reach website. “Reach does a great job of plugging us into the community,” Childs said.
Rising seventh- through 12th graders can attend work camps, which have served hard hit areas from Colorado to Mississippi, including Native American reservations. The mission group must provide at least one adult chaperone for every five students.
Twelve years ago, six Siler Presbyterian youth attended the church’s first Reach Workcamp in Mississippi. This summer, the church expects to send 45 students and 15 adults to Tennessee.
The strong history between Siler Presbyterian Church and Reach even brought the group to Union County, where in years past it has worked on various projects. “Our relationship with Reach helped bring attention to what was needed right here in our own backyard,” Ammons said.
The Siler youth expect to work hard during their weeklong trip in June. They will sleep and take meals in a local middle or high school, Childs explained, and spend their days hammering on roofs and decks, installing sheet rock and even doing a bit of electrical work.
“They do everything and are well supervised by adults who know what they are doing,” Jill Ammons said. Darryl Ammons, for one, is a licensed contractor.
The work, however, begins long before these students ever set foot in Anderson County. To participate, each youth group member must raise $500 to cover the cost of their trip and their chaperones. “Letting them raise their own money lets our kids take ownership of their trip,” Ammons said. The fundraising also allows children a chance to help take the financial burden off their families, especially those sending more than one child, Childs explained.
Fundraisers have ranged from a community-wide yard sale to a talent show, from a spaghetti dinner to a fine dining experience called “La Grande Chateau,” where students serve as wait staff. Although their fundraising campaign is about to wind down, Childs welcomes community support at the May 7 golf tournament at Stonebridge Golf Club in Monroe.
“The public is welcome to attend, and we would appreciate any corporate sponsorship,” Childs said.
“It’s common for youth to not be very excited about the prospect of serving others,” Childs said. “Reach excels at getting kids excited to help others.”
Those interested in helping Siler Presbyterian’s youth group get to Anderson County, Tennesse, can contact Childs at 704-650-5501 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Lean more about Reach Workcamps at the organization’s website, www.reachwc.org.