ENID, Okla. —
Business marquees sport welcoming words and groups of kids can be seen working hard with shovels and rakes across Enid as a mission team beautifies the city.
The marquees read, “Welcome Mission Enid,” a greeting to a group of about 200 middle and high school volunteers, some of whom have traveled across the state to serve in Enid this week.
Disciples of Christ churches have united to bring the team to town, having previously served in El Reno and Stillwater. Central Christian Church in Enid is hosting the volunteers and has worked with CDSA to find worksites all over the community.
Kayte Anton sees the fruit of her hard work spent organizing the event as carefree kids pull weeds and prepare the flowerbeds outside Adventure Quest for new mulch. This is just one of many worksites, but it may be the biggest endeavor.
Other volunteer sites include Loaves and Fishes, YWCA Enid, Hope Outreach, University Place Christian Church, Forgotten Ministries and a few private residences, Anton said.
Tracy Bittle, Associate Director at Leonardo’s Children’s Museum, said the kids completed more work Tuesday than she and her volunteers would have been able to complete in several Saturdays of work.
“They’re getting things done that we have been trying to get done for months, but we didn’t have the material,” Bittle said.
The kids’ hardworking and uncomplaining attitudes have been impressive, Bittle said.
“These kids were just answered prayers, because they have so much more energy,” Bittle said.
Even after working all morning in 90-degree weather, the young workers chat cheerfully about their experiences as if they’ve been enjoying rides at an amusement park.
Rachel Meyer, one of the volunteers, said whining about the work just doesn’t happen.
“I’ve never really met anyone who complains about being outside,” Meyer said. “Everybody just kind of shows up, and whatever they get is what they’re happy to do.”
This is Meyer’s fifth year doing mission work with the team. Since she just graduated high school, this will be her last year.
“It’s kind of interesting, because there’s me who just graduated and then Aiden who is going to be a seventh-grader,” Meyer said. “It’s a cool gap of ages all working together.”
Not only do their ages differ, but also their hometowns. The kids come from across the state, all united by their church.
Tara Dew, a youth minister at First Christian Church in El Reno, came along to supervise the trip. She said the service opportunity has the potential to permanently change the kids’ lives.
“The youth can see the impact that they’re making and really be touched, which will change the way they look at life forever,” Dew said.
Aiden James, a middle school volunteer, said seeing the difference he can make is the best part of mission work.
“It’s just fun to see before and after how you can help people,” James said. “How it changes their lives through you.”
Plus, it’s not all grimy work in the hot sun. The kids work in the morning and afternoon, but spend their evenings having fun activities like free time at the YMCA or dance at Convention Hall. The week is about service but also fellowship, Anton said.
Armed with sack lunches and smiles, the volunteers will finish up at their worksites today and end the week with a party at SkateTown. The out-of-towners will return to their homes, but not without leaving Enid in better shape than before.
John Wheeler, Mission Enid director and youth minister at Central Christian Church, said local sponsors are what has made Mission Enid a success.
“We are blessed by our church at large and are blessed by this great city,” Wheeler said. “The Rotary Club, Visit Enid, the local volunteers and our local nonprofits have really joined together to make an event that these teens, and hopefully Enid, will remember.”
For more information about Mission Enid, go to www.missionenid.org.
Enid mission sponsors
Enid Rotary Club
Hit Play DJ
Integris Bass Baptist Health Center
Advance Pierre Foods
The Bike Shop
Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center
Enid Event Center and Convention Hall
Enid Convention and Visitors Bureau
Red Dirt Technologies
Christian Church of the Covenant