Not-so-random acts of kindness

North Laurel youth group reaches out into the community to help those in need with small deeds

Thursday, July 13, 2006


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Raphael Talisman⁄The Gazette
Leah Sattler, 17, of Laurel’s Grace Community Church, hauls off a trash bag full of household goods ruined by the recent flooding in Edmonston.






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Photos by Raphael Talisman⁄The Gazette
Dena Roth, 16 of Laurel, helps clear household goods and furniture that were ruined by the recent flooding in Edmonston. Roth’s church group practices random acts of kindness weekly.

Editor’s note: Dena Roth is working as an intern for The Gazette this summer. She is 16 years old and entering her senior year at Reservoir High School, where she is an editor for her school newspaper. She wrote this first-person account of a recent church activity.

Grace Community Church’s youth group, CpR (Christians pumped and Ready) recently started a series of outreach activities to encourage the Laurel area through their program TNT (Thursday Night Thing).

As an active member of CpR and TNT, and new to outreaches, I was inspired by how many people were willing to brave the heat and thunderstorms to actually do something to help people that needed it. Out of more than 300 teenagers who attend CpR church services, about 50 of us gather on Thursday nights during the summer for small, local outreach activities.

Divided into small groups and sent out with our college-aged leaders, our mission is to impact the community of Laurel through small favors and acts of encouragement. Some groups handed out cold water bottles to basketball players at Centennial Park, others painted faces, and some washed car windows at a gas station on All Saints Road.

Some of the groups took on activities that were meant to simply inspire and cheer up the community, such as playing volleyball with groups at Savage Park, cleaning up trash, and playing kickball with kids.

After my first outreach at TNT, and seeing how much we could affect people through random acts of kindness, I was excited to help the community in any way I could.

After the recent flooding in Prince George’s County, I announced to the TNT group that I would go to Edmonston to assist those families whose houses got flooded and invited others to join me. I was surprised at how many people were more than willing to make the trek and don the rubber gloves to do whatever was needed.

Grace Community Church
GCC is a nondenominational, Christian, Bible-centered church located at 8200 Old Columbia Road, Fulton, right on the border of Prince George’s and Howard counties. Call 240-553-1090, or visit www.gcconline.org or www.atthewarehouse.org for CpR and Light Company.
While only eight girls were available for this activity on July 1, our small but enthusiastic group packed into two cars and headed out to the core of the damage and simply walked the neighborhoods, asking what we could do for anyone who needed help.

As we walked the neighborhood, my eyes immediately focused on one yard that seemed to be having a huge yard sale. As I got closer, I noticed all of the ‘‘merchandise” was actually damaged property from inside the home. Maria Galeas’ house near Taylor Road had been badly damaged by floodwaters and she had to empty her belongings onto her yard.

‘‘The basement was filled up with water a foot away from the ceiling, and our refrigerator was floating. It put a hole in our basement ceiling, and ... part of our first floor was flooded about a foot. Our toilet started overflowing like a fountain, and there was a lot of sewage, too,” Galeas said, summarizing the damage to her house.

Our TNT group helped her sort through all of her belongings from the flooded rooms and distinguish salvageable items from damaged property. We took much of it to the dump, and helped her carry more of it to the curb to make it easier to get rid of.

She seemed overwhelmed by strangers aiding her for what seemed to be no reason.

‘‘You guys were so nice,” Galeas said after the event. ‘‘It felt good. I was very happy.”

I felt equally thrilled by helping her. We get just as much out of our outreaches as we put into the community. Helping others not only inspires the recipients of our actions, but our group feels as if we really make a difference, which is the greatest reward I could ask for.

Leah Sattler, 17, an active member of TNT who loves helping her community, noticed the difference she feels we made with the flood cleanup effort.

‘‘It was amazing ... just to see the look on [Galeas’] face made it all worthwhile,” she said. ‘‘It was really nice to just get out there and help people that needed it. It was great to just get down and dirty and I loved it.”

Other activities TNT has done included Grace’s youth pastor, Scott Murrill, and leader John Bronz, helping someone on the side of the road with a flat tire.

‘‘They needed help, so we swerved over to the side of the road and got out to give them a hand,” Murrill said. ‘‘We chatted and had a good time and made a friend, and that’s our goal.”

After splitting into small groups and doing our outreaches, we come back to the church to talk about how it went. Anyone we met gets mentioned, and we spend a few minutes praying for them as a group.

‘‘People really love to hear they’re being prayed for, they feel like strangers are helping them and that not all teenagers are bad,” said TNT member Ariell Watson, 16.

Working with TNT has been rewarding for everyone involved. Tina Toner, 16, after the first week of TNT, expressed her desire to do outreaches more than just once a week.

‘‘I want more than just TNT to be a Thursday Night Thing. Can we do SNT, and MNT, and Every Night Thing?” Toner said.

After seeing how we could inspire and affect people, we all jumped at any chance we had to help people during our daily lives. Becca Hartman, 18, and Sattler, picked up trash together and explained that it was inspired by how great TNT has been.

‘‘We just did it, we wanted to help, and it was the least we could do for everyone,” Sattler said.

The members of CpR that are involved in the TNT outreaches are trying to show how God works in their own lives by doing it for members of our community.

The point of our outreaches is not to convert others to our religious beliefs or gain recognition for our actions, but they are about being nice to people and encouraging and inspiring others because of God’s love for them.

E-mail Dena Roth at droth@gazette.net.