The youth of First Presbyterians’ POW program, “Presbyterians on Wednesday,” have come up with projects dear to their hearts in an effort to make a difference in the lives of others. The youth group’s motto, “Be the Light,” is an adaptation taken from Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deed and glorify your Father in heaven.”

“They have been working on social entrepreneur/community service projects since early 2021 in an effort to live their faith by helping to make earth like it is in heaven and to love their neighbors,” Rev. Dr. Erin McGee said. “The students have determined causes they are passionate about, researched that need in the El Campo or Texas community, and have created projects to support those needs.”

One group donated items to the Crisis Center. Together, sophomore Hal Erwin, freshman Emily Beechwood and eighth graders Ava Fernandez, Hannah Mickelson, Lizzie Erwin and Khaki Erwin reached out to the center to get an idea on what was needed.

“After contacting the Crisis Center to determine needs, the group is collecting donations, physical and monetary, from church members which they will deliver to the Wharton and Bay City Crisis Center locations,” McGee said.

“There is so much we can do to help the people in our community,” Khaki Erwin added.

The kids picked this community service project because it really hits close to home.

“They knew this project would help a lot of people in our area who were really struggling, and that our donations would go directly to those in need,” McGee said.

The three-person group of Jackson Clapp, Porter Beechwood and Nick Fernandez is one they wanted the community to be more aware of. They are in the seventh, sixth and fifth grades, respectively. Their project involved creating a website and poster on human trafficking. The website is: https://humantrafficking.clapp.me/.

“We thought human slavery/trafficking was abolished a long time ago,” Clapp said. “We had been talking about slavery in school and it upset a classmate. I wanted to do something to help.”

This group’s project was “created both to raise awareness about human trafficking and provide resources for human trafficking to seek help or report suspicious activity,” McGee said.

Working solo, sixth grader Mayson Bridges decided to do something about bullying, so she created a “Buddy Bench.”

“(It is) a playground bench designated for students who need a playmate or friend,” Bridges said. “They signal others by sitting on the bench.”

Bridges has personally seen bullying at her school, so she believes this project is something she can do to prevent that. The bench will be placed on one of the elementary school campuses.

“I see bullying around my school and I think it is not good,” she said.

Hadley Clapp and Nancy Beechwood, both fourth grade students, decided to make an ecological stand when they came up with the idea of having a “Sea Turtle Lemonade Stand.”

“Using ocean-friendly compostable cups and reusable water bottles, (they) sold lemonade to raise money to save sea turtles through Sea Turtle, Inc.,” McGee said.

That website is: https://seaturtleinc.org/

“We like turtles,” Clapp said.

“We looked up top endangered species and on the list were leather back turtles,” Beechwood said. “One small thing can make a big difference.”

Samantha Clapp, a kindergartener, loves tigers and because they are endangered, she wanted to bring more awareness to her family, friends and community.

Her project was created “to educate others about the need to save the tigers and provide a resource where they can support this project through direct donations to www.savethetigers.now,” McGee said.

“Because tigers are really endangered,” Clapp said.

One can view a save the tigers video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmFYr_I3h_c.

“These projects help to turn our community in the place God would want it to be, like heaven,” Khaki Erwin said.

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