The fundraiser was organized by Gary and Marsha Thompson, church members who lead Community UMC's yearly trip to volunteer with Camp Hope. Marsha Thompson shared that when she and her husband began attending Community UMC, they approached the pastor and asked to take a group of youth and adults to Frostburg, MD, to participate in the program.
“Our church did not have a youth missions program,” said Marsha Thompson. “Other Pasadena churches were attending Camp Hope, and we wanted to be involved. We were thrilled when the pastor agreed to let us begin taking a group there every year.”
Camp Hope is a nonprofit organization that helps needy families in Allegheny County with home repairs. The program is geared towards high school students, and allows each group of students to spend one week each summer in the Appalachian Mountains, helping less fortunate families.
“It's amazing to watch the kids work as a team,” said Marsha Thompson. “We make them turn off all electronics—no iPods, no cell phones—and we encourage them to spend time talking to one another and playing board games. It's like we've given them new toys. Most of them never get to relate to each other like that in this day and age. That, combined with seeing them make an impact in someone's life, make our efforts truly worthwhile.”
Church member Sue Barnes has been participating in Camp Hope for 11 years, and said that the sense of community is something she looks forward to sharing with young students each year.
“I went for two years as a student,” Barnes said. “It made such an impact on me that I have spent the last nine years going back as an adult chaperone.”
According to Thompson, more than 200 tickets were sold for the crab feast. The event included a live band and raffles, with all proceeds going toward the Camp Hope program to pay for housing for the students and building materials for the various projects.
Pastor Jeff Paulson attended the event and spoke highly of his congregation and their outreach efforts. Paulson is new to the church, having taken over the pastoral responsibilities at Community UMC this summer.
“I am blessed to be a part of such a warm, giving congregation,” said Paulson. “All of the proceeds from this event go to restoring lives in Frostburg through the Camp Hope program. It is such a great program, and it makes such a positive impact in the lives of our youth. I'm happy to see such a great turnout to support the cause.”
For information about donating to the Camp Hope efforts or to find out about the ministries and activities at the church, visit the Community UMC website.