(HAMLIN, W.V.) Waking up before sunrise during the summer is usually not a very appealing task for a high school student, but this case was different.
On Saturday, July 1, around 6:30 a.m., a group of St. Paul’s students joined other members of the Christ Episcopal Youth Group and eagerly loaded their bags into passenger vans and set off on their 14-hour journey to help serve the impoverished area of Hamlin, West Virginia. Eight students from St. Paul’s, six juniors and two seniors, participated in the annual Christ Episcopal mission trip, helping around the community for one week. They did this by painting and rebuilding homes, cleaning the local high school and assisting the senior citizens.
“I had never been to West Virginia before, so I was excited see it,” SPS junior Hyde Healy said. “But, I was more excited to meet the people we would get to serve (and serve with) over the course of the next week.”
Instead of traveling to West Virginia without stopping, the group of 30 students from St. Paul’s, St. Scholastica Academy, Mandeville High School and Christ Episcopal School spent the night in Nashville, Tennessee, sheltered graciously by Christ Church Cathedral.
The following afternoon, the three 15-passenger vans pulled into the parking lot of the Hamlin Baptist Church, eager to begin the upcoming week of service and worship.
“I am immensely proud of each of the (St. Paul’s) students who served in West Virginia,” Blake Burns, Christ Church Youth group leader, said, “They each showed courage in their servanthood and acts of love for the community.”
For the next six days, the students broke off into groups and spread out across Hamlin and other nearby areas to assist the community in any way possible.
Some groups spent time at the Salt Rock Senior Center, playing bingo, singing and providing company to those who do not usually have visitors. Other groups were tasked with much more labor intensive tasks, such as removing fake blood off of walls in classrooms of Lincoln County High School — a very difficult task.
“We tried three or four different chemical solutions before one started to work, and it took two or three hours to clear one wall of (fake) blood stains, even with five people working on the same wall,” said junior Hyde Healy.
Each night would conclude with the participants reflecting on the day with their youth groups, which lead to immense bonding between students.
“There were a few very intense moments on the trip within our group,” SPS senior Jordan Edney said. “I feel way closer to the entire group as a whole, but it really did form a special bond between the St. Paul’s students.”
Students entering grades 9-12 are allowed on the annual mission trip. Those who would like more information on the 2018 mission trip can email firstname.lastname@example.org.