Youth groups forgo beach trip to help others

First Baptist Church Ashville youth group students take a quick break during cleanup.First Baptist Church Ashville youth group students take a quick break during cleanup.

By Lindsay Seagraves/News Editor

Executive Director of Breakaway Ministries Eddie Nichols and three statewide youth groups spent 4th of July weekend not on the beach – but ministering to other people through a cleanup camp.

Nichols said the city of Gadsden was able to provide houses that qualify for cleanup by Breakaway Ministries. “They asked us three years ago if we could help so we supply churches to come out and paint houses and do all this ministry for a whole week,” he explained.

Three youth groups from different areas of Alabama came to Gadsden on Sunday, July 6 and helped in the cleanup until Thursday, July 10. 

The city provided all materials for the projects, including cosmetic and some construction work.

Projects included painting houses, washing walls and windows, pressure washing walls and sidewalks and trimming and removing shrubbery or trees that could cause damage to the property.

“Guys, come on, let’s go around back and get the water cut on,” Nichols instructed as students sitting along a half-painted house near Tuscaloosa Avenue quickly jumped up after a short break. 

Nichols said, “After the kids work during the day they get a break then we come together that night and have supper and worship at The Gathering downtown.”

Hepzibah Baptist Church chaperone Wendy Boyd came with 30 other kids and adults for the cleanup. 

“Our youth pastor used be at Union 3 Baptist Church, and he and Eddie have known each other for about ten years,” she said.

 “He’s just had a heart for it so when he became our youth minister he mentioned to us that [Breakaway] might be something our youth would want to come do.”

Boyd said when youth students decide they want to be a part of the mission trip, she tells them, “’It’s not a fun, laying on the beach youth trip; you’ll actually be working.’” 

Chaperone Tonya Conner said although the cleanup is tough work, every middle school grade student who helped last year came back. “They enjoyed it that much,” she said.

First Baptist Ashville youth leader Calvin Bailey brought 13 kids and chaperones to the cleanup. 

“Eddie’s great with Breakaway, we’ve gone to camps of his for at least 13 years,” he said.

When asked why he chooses to attend Breakaway cleanup each year, Bailey responded, “Just the opportunity to do mission work so close by. All the other summer camps that we’ve gone to have been more of a team building camp, and I have some youth that haven’t been able to experience actually ministering for other people, they’ve only experienced being ministered to.”

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