Faith-group kids clean up around Parkrose homes and businesses

While some other kids spent their spring vacation getting in trouble, see why these kids chose to work – really hard – to help improve their neighborhood …

Aimee Collier and Shannon Pyles help a disabled neighbor by carrying junk out of their yard.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It seems as if all some young kids can think about doing during spring vacation is getting drunk or stoned or partying during their break from school.

“I guess this is a little different,” Tray Michael, youth pastor at Eastside Foursquare Church in Parkrose. “We’re out serving the community.”

They call their annual project Urban Impact. “Every year, we get young people together for fellowship at our church, headquartered in the Quality Inn/Rodeway Inn Hotels our church operates. We go out for three days, into the community, and help out.”

They started by picking up trash, removing debris, and washing the stores’ windows in the Parkrose business district, along NE Sandy Blvd. from NE 97th Ave. up to NE 122nd Ave.

Then, the group of nearly 50 youths from Mount Olivet, New Hope, and New Wine Churches, a church from Salem, and the youth group from the Eastside Foursquare Church, headed into the Parkrose neighborhood.

With the help of ten adults, the hard-working youths quickly filled trucks with trash and debris collected from Parkrose neighborhood yards.

“As you can see, we’re going door-to-door, picking up trash and hauling away,” observed Michael. “We’re taking junk and trash out of their yards for free. We’re not proselytizing; we’re just lovin’ them. We’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re here in the neighborhood and volunteering our time to bless you with our help’.”

In addition to trash hauling, this crew of kids makes rakes leaves and trims plants for a disabled neighbor.

Scott Larkin, a Parkrose homeowner whose yard was being raked by the kids, said “It’s a blessing. They’re helping someone in desperate need. I have a back injury, so this really helps.”

We asked Larkin if the group tried to preach at him.

“No, they just helped us out of the kindness of their hearts,” replied Larkin.  “We’re very, very thankful for. It’s amazing to see youth, nowadays, getting out and doing something like this. These folks are a godsend.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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