WEEK OF SERVICE: Youth group lends a hand in the community

17-year-old Olivia Artigues shovels gravel at the Oktibbeha County Humane Society on Tuesday. (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)
Ryan Phillips

The youth group from one local church is doing its part to help others in the Starkville community as part of an annual summer mission.

On Tuesday, about a half dozen or so high school students from St. Joseph Catholic Church spread new gravel over the parking lot at the Oktibbeha County Humane Society on Industrial Park Road. Later in the evening, the group served food at the Casserole Kitchen at First Presbyterian Church.

The light manual labor Tuesday morning isn’t their only project, though.

Monday saw the group, which will dedicate the entire week to service projects, serve as volunteers and group leaders for vacation bible school with the Boys & Girls Club of Starkville.

On Wednesday, the group will held build sheds at a Habitat for Humanity home in town and then Thursday will volunteer with the Palmer Home for Children.

“It’s great, it’s them living out their faith,” said St. Joseph deacon Jeff Artigues. “I’m not good at exact quotes from the Bible but it says don’t just be hearers of the word but be doers of the word as well. This is us putting our faith into action.”

The gravel was provided to the group at the Oktibbeha County Humane Society Monday, with their primary contribution coming in the form of labor. Seven youth members helped shovel and spread out gravel on Monday, but others will help during the different projects throughout the week.

“I just love to serve the community,” said 17-year-old Joseph Chromiak as he leaned on a shovel. “It makes me feel so great to know that I’m helping out and it’s God’s plan to help the less fortunate and help the needy so I’m grateful that I’m fulfilling his plan.”

This kind of manual labor isn’t new for Chromiak, who said he lives on a small farm where hard work is necessary.

He then recommended volunteering to other youth who may be considering ways to get involved in their community.

“I would say go for it because it’s a great feeling because you know you are helping out the community for the better, which is great for the people and it’s God’s plan, so it’s a great thing to do,” Chromiak said.

Some youth members have done this week of service in years past, including 17-year-old Emily Anthony.

“I did it last year and it felt good to go out in the community and know you’re making a difference,” she said. “And it’s nice, I drive passed her every day on the way to work and I see people using it.”

Anthony echoed Chromiak, recommending that their peers get out and find ways to make their community a better place.

“Don’t be afraid to go out and do it, it always does good and you’re always going to help somebody, take an hour, go out in the park and pick up trash, go out on your own or even just do something around your school,” she said. “If you see someone throwing something away on the ground, just pick it up.”

OCHS board member Karen Lilly then praised the efforts of the group, saying the shelter is always gratefulfor any help it can get.

“We’re just always happy to have volunteers here at the shelter,” Lilly said. “We need a lot of help, there are a lot of animals and a lot of work to be done, all year.”