ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Bettering Belfield: Local youth group volunteers at home in lieu of mission trip

Belfield Lutheran Church's youth group decided to invest its time and effort into the local community rather than going on another mission trip this year.

Nine Belfield students and three leaders from Belfield Lutheran Church spent this week volunteering in their community in lieu of a mission trip. Photo by Ellie Potter/The Dickinson Press
Nine Belfield students and three leaders from Belfield Lutheran Church spent this week volunteering in their community in lieu of a mission trip. Photo by Ellie Potter/The Dickinson Press

Belfield Lutheran Church's youth group decided to invest its time and effort into the local community rather than going on another mission trip this year.

Nine kids ages 12 to 16 spent the past week weeding, hauling gravel, mowing and cleaning up Belfield. They built ramps and tables for the local food pantry, stained boards for the new police department building, weeded around headstones at the cemetery and did some painting at the senior center.

"The previous five years they've been to Oklahoma, they've been to Wyoming, they went to South Dakota, so it was just time to come home and do something here," said Craig Mclaughlin, one of the youth group leaders. "... It was time to give back to our community instead of giving to everybody else's community."

Other communities have not seemed as appreciative of the group's work in the past, so the leaders decided to invest their time and energy into bettering Belfield. The group's leaders also hoped the week would help the kids take more pride in their own backyard and the work they put into it.

The church spread the word throughout Belfield and had several residents ask for help. They spread 11 tons of gravel - about 60 or 70 wheel barrels full - around one resident's home. Another asked for help cleaning his window wells and gutters.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We actually did work in our town to make it look better rather than go somewhere else that we're probably never going to go again, so it just shows our own community members that we wanted to step up and do work here," said Mady Redig, a member of the youth group.

The teens were not allowed to go home, so the week mirrored what a normal mission trip would have been like. They showered at the school, borrowed a bus from Belfield Parks and Recreation for the week and slept in the church. The kids also had limited cell phone use.

The youth group fundraised through a silent auction and chili nights for the money to fund the week, but the "trip" was free to all the kids.They went to the Medora Musical, had a movie night at the Belfield Theater and played games in the evenings as well.

Ultimately, the students said they preferred working in their own backyards rather than traveling out of state.

Sullivan Haverluk, one of the group members, said he realized it was sometimes easier for the younger kids to help others around the community, noting their work in the cemetery. They even uncovered a headstone that had been entirely covered by weeds and bushes.

"We didn't do it to get noticed, we did it to help people out and so that it would be easier for them," he said.

Marina Redig, another group leader, said she hopes efforts like this change the impression some residents have on the younger generation. They also tried to show the students there are other ways to have fun with their friends besides drinking or doing drugs, something that has become more of a community effort.

"I think between the churches, the city, we're all trying to do more for these kids to give them more options," said Anna Ross, a parent of one of the kids. "This is just the beginning of what we're doing. There's a lot more that everyone is coming together to do. We're going to try and really give our kids more options, better options, funner options, things to do.

ADVERTISEMENT

"They're good kids though. They're hard workers, they're respectable, and we want the community to know that - to look at them as young adults who can be respected."

What To Read Next
A resolution looking to allow the legislature to consider work requirements on the newly expanded Medicaid program is one step closer to the 2024 ballot.
With HB 1205, Reps Mike Lefor and Vicky Steiner would prohibit "sexually explicit content" in public libraries. Facing an uphill battle, the pair remain united in their commitment to see it passed.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.
City accountant reports increases in oil impact, sales tax, hospitality tax and occupancy tax revenue during the Jan. 24 meeting, commission approves two policy amendments.