Mission statement: Trip inspires ALC youths to keep serving

WORTHINGTON -- Last summer, high school youths from American Lutheran Church in Worthington embarked on their first mission trip. The students were so impacted by the experience that they are planning another trip and seeking out other ways to be...

Members of Y'ALL -- Youth of American Lutheran Loving Others -- show off some of the books they've collected as part of their Bandits for Books project. The youths are also raising money through a silent auction to allow them to go on another mission trip next summer and attend confirmation camp.(Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Last summer, high school youths from American Lutheran Church in Worthington embarked on their first mission trip.

The students were so impacted by the experience that they are planning another trip and seeking out other ways to be of service.

With increased numbers and calling themselves Y'ALL -- Youth of American Lutheran Loving Others -- they are raising money to send their younger members to confirmation camp and the older ones on a mission trip to North Carolina. They are also collecting new and used books -- a project that sprouted directly from last summer's journey.

"We went to Kansas City, Kan., for our mission trip," began ALC youth Ellen Dudley.

"It was through the YouthWorks program," continued Marin Korthals. "They had it set up where we stayed someplace and we worked with their counselors. We did both physical work and worked with kids in the community. We played with them, taught them Bible verses, helped them with math and reading."


"The books we read to them from were all tattered," Dudley recalled.

"And they'd read them so often that they had them memorized," Korthals added.

The Worthington teens worked at Mount Carmel, a youth center where children in first through fourth grades who have no place to go in the summer receive a free meal and learning opportunities.

"We got an e-mail from the (YouthWorks) coordinator from Kansas City," related ALC Pastor Liz Radtke. "We were there for one week, but YouthWorks was there for eight weeks, and during that time, the kids gained six months of reading.

"I'm so proud of all y'all, because you helped them get there," she added to the ALC teens.

When they returned to Worthington, the ALC youths came up with the idea of collecting books to supplement the Mount Carmel collection. The idea has turned into Bandits for Books, a play on the interdenominational Worthington church youth Pirates for the Pantry project of collecting food for the local food shelves. Their goal is to literally gather "a ton of books," which will be not only sent to Mount Carmel, but also taken on their next mission trip to North Carolina and distributed to three learning centers in Worthington (Headstart, an afterschool program through District 518 and the Young Mothers Class through the Nobles County Integration Collaborative).

"So we're looking at where we were (Mount Carmel), forward to where we are going (North Carolina) but also where we are right now (Worthington)," explained Radtke.

The enthusiasm of the 12 students who went on the 2010 mission trip has encouraged more teens to sign up for the 2011 venture.


"Last year was almost an experimental thing," said Korthals. "We found out it works, so now there's more interest."

Twenty-five youths and four adults will make the trek to North Carolina on June 18-26, 2011. Earlier in that month, 11 seventh- and eighth-graders and two adults from the church will attend confirmation camp at Good Earth Village in Spring Valley. To make both trips possible, they estimate that $20,000 needs to be raised by next summer.

The youths have taken ownership of the fundraising effort and are currently conducting a silent auction. They personally solicited donations from both congregational members and businesses throughout the community, coming up with more than 160 items that are up for bids.

"We have some really random items that we've been blessed with," said Radtke. "For instance, we've got an external vehicle chair lift that is worth almost $3,000. It's a very specific niche, but we hope there is somebody in the community who can use it. We have someone in our congregation who makes wine, so we have that. There's six desserts of the month, original artwork, handmade wooden toys and bowls, a handmade doll, a brand new yard trimmer, lots of gifts and certificates from local businesses."

The items are currently set up in the church fellowship hall, and anyone interested in making a bid is encouraged to stop by the church during regular business hours or between services on Sundays. The auction will conclude promptly at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 28.

"It's the perfect place to go Christmas shopping," Radtke said. "We have something for every price range."

Outright donations are also appreciated, Radtke added, and people who donate certain levels will have their name posted on the "Wall of Y'All" in the fellowship hall and listed on the back of the T-shirts the teens will wear during their mission efforts.

For a small donation -- just $2 -- people can also purchase a "We Love Y'All" rubber bracelet and wear it to show support for the effort.


The students realize they have a lot of fundraising left to do to reach the $20,000 goal, but they are determined to work hard -- both here and in North Carolina -- in order to fulfill their "American Lutheran Youth Loving Others" initiative.

Donations of new and used books can be brought to the American Lutheran Church office, 915 Winifred St. For more information about the Bandits for Books project or the silent auction, contact the church office, 376-5264.

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