What happens when you put 175 teenagers ranging from sixth to twelfth grades in one room and ask them to pack more than 2,000 buddy packs? You get chaos, organized chaos, that is. The Church at Osage Hills started the Buddy Pack Ministry in the fall. Adult leaders have led the charge in the unloading, setting up, packing and transportation for months. Youth have stepped in from time to time to help, but this time, the youth took it over.
Youth Pastor Scott Angelo wanted the youth to learn what it meant to take ownership in such a large scale project and see it to fruition. High school youth stepped up into leadership roles and helped the younger students through out the night.
"My job in the buddy packing night was the overall leader. I made sure that every group was taken care of and running as smooth as possible. I answered questions, made sure all the jobs were filled, made sure all jobs were getting done, and most of all telling everyone thank you so much for doing this for the glory of God," Camdenton senior Abi Williams said.
A night of packing is about much more than just putting food in bags. A team must set up the tables and restock the food as it is packed. One team must unload and load the truck. To make sure the packing is on schedule and the amounts are correct, one team must count the packs throughout the night.
"My job was to set up the tables and layout the food and keep the food restocked. It was amazing to be able to see everyone work together and to have such a big responsibility," Camdenton junior Macy Sparks said.
Camdenton senior Amber Lucas added, "My job was to get a group of people to load and unload the truck. Then we all jumped in to help with packing. Most of us tied up the bags. I loved taking responsibility for my part. It was such a huge project for our youth group, and I'm super glad we all had a part in it."
"I was the master counter of buddy packing. I made sure that the right number of packs were packed. I was so excited that this project was taken over by students. We got a lot accomplished. The night went extremely well. Although slightly stressful, we always had what we needed, thanks to all of the team work and leadership," Osage Junior Steven Stanton said.
The adult leaders made a point to step back and let the kids take over the night. The daunting task of packing more than 2,000 packs may have seemed impossible at first but with all students on board, it came together quickly.
Page 2 of 3 - "I learned that by ourselves it would've been impossible but together we are a force to be reckoned with," Stanton said.
Williams added, "Everyone was overly helpful and jumped right on a job when asked to do so and did that job to their highest potential. Through the entire experience i learned to never underestimate teenagers. Everyone worked extremely hard, got things done in a very timely manner, efficiently, and we all had a great time doing it."
Many may think that motivating teens to do something productive could be difficult, but the youth at Osage Hills proved that to be wrong.
"I was super impressed by hearing no complaints about their job, even when things got stressful. Everybody came in and did what they were asked to do," Lucas said.
For these youth, the night was about more than just getting a job done. It was about feeding hungry children.
"I wanted to take part in this because I don't ever want a child to go hungry and because I knew God would use our group in mighty ways," said Stanton.
Lucas added, "There was a time when it hit everyone that those buddy packs were going to children whose families were limited of food. It made me and I hope everyone else, feel very blessed and grateful. It was definitely something I wanted to be apart of, and I do think we will all do it again in the future. At least, I hope so. It was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had."
The youth at Osage Hills has gone on mission trips to other states and even other countries like Jamaica, but this opportunity allowed them to experience a mission field in their own back yard.
"There is no better feeling then to help other people and to care for their well being. I am proud of my youth group and church for taking on the buddy packing program. It is important to care for people outside of the country, like Jamaica, and just as important to care for the people right next door to us," Williams said.
Sparks added, "I love being a part of the church and this seemed like a great opportunity to help. To be able to help other students helps me realize that the are so many people that need help and it easy to get involved in helping."
The Church at Osage Hills is an official buddy bank with the Central Missouri Food Bank, but is still in need of donations to the Buddy Pack Ministry. Donations can be monetary or food related. Monetary donations can be sent to The Church at Osage Hills, 5237 Osage Beach Pkwy, Osage Beach, MO 65065. Please memo Buddy Pack Program on a check or somewhere on the envelope. Food donations can be dropped off at the church. For questions, call 573-348-1030.
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