Teens camp in Trenton to make a difference

July 12, 2011 2:35:37 PM PDT
While many teenagers choose to spend their summer hanging out at the beach, one group is in Trenton making a difference.

400 teens from all over the country are taking part in the Group Cares work camp, a Christian-based organization that arranges for teens to spend a week cleaning up and rehabbing homes in impoverished neighborhoods.

? "Some of them are elderly or they just don't have the money to get it done so we come in voluntarily," said Sammi Henbest of Rockton, Illinois.

"It's 100 degrees, I still want to be out here. It's what we want to do, we're here for a reason," said Matt Freidrick of Alman, Michigan.

The work camp volunteers--ages 14 to 18--are doing the repairs and touch-ups free of charge in about 60 homes. Local organizations help pay for the work, including a grant from NJ Manufacturers Insurance Co.

After tearing down a rotted, leaky roof on Poplar Street?one group of campers is now building a new one.

"I wouldn't have the money for this. It's a blessing that they came along and they're going to fix my roof and my porch. it's truly a blessing," said Clarissa Vereen Holt of Trenton.

? There's plenty of work to do here as some of the homes haven't had repairs done in decades. The kids say it's messy and hard but they're happy to do this.

"Personally I just think it's so fun to work with all these people and help everyone. I really like to give back to people in the community," said Alissa Barwinski of Columbus, Ohio.

"Just come out here and help people who actually need it, so it just feels good to do," said Lizzie Murray of Macomb, Michigan.

"I feel like I'm a helper, helping people that need it and that's what we're taught to do in the Bible," said Dereck Fleury of Marysville, Ohio.

The campers, who are staying at a local school, are being careful about working in the blistering heat.

"The New Jersey sun is a little bit warmer than the Michigan sun," said Katie Kling of Chesterfield, Michigan.

"Basically you just got to drink a lot of water, if you get tired take some breaks in the shade, just stay out of the sun," said Brad Brenahan of Westmont, Illinois.

Work camp volunteers will have a busy week, but the teens say the hard work they put in will reap rewards in?ways practical and spiritual.