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World Tour participants go extra mile to help community

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–A muggy Sunday afternoon in June saw 313 World tour participants visit ministry and construction sites all over Birmingham, Ala. The teenagers took the time to discuss their duties for the week and meet area residents, but one ministry “band” returned with an extra mission in mind: to fill The Church at Fairview’s empty food pantry.
It was a mission successfully completed by the end of the week, with World Tour participants donating more than 400 pounds of food to the church’s program June 13-20.
South Carolinian Anna Elliott, 18, who served as the band’s road manager, said the initial visit inspired her group to go the extra mile. The “Galilee Gang’s” primary responsibility was to help run the children’s Summer Summit day camp, but the group discussed the possibility of making a donation to the food pantry early in the week.
“Emily (Marler, Summer Summit co-director) told us about it, and we decided this would be another way to show our concern and God’s love for the people of the Ensley community,” Elliott said.
The Galilee Gang brought their concern before the World Tour project that Tuesday night with hopes of encouraging others to make contributions. Project coordinator Ricky Creech said he eagerly took up the cause.
“If you will give just 90 cents to buy one can of non-perishable goods … that would be more than 350 pounds of canned goods,” he told World Tour participants. “Let’s all share in that ministry.”
“Maybe we can make a bigger difference if we ask you to help us,” he added. “So many of (the people of Ensley) are hungry, and the lunches the church gives them are all they get.”
Church staff said they were amazed by the act of generosity on the part of the students.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” said Brian Hill, co-director of Summer Summit. “Every morning the participants came in asking about the food pantry. They took the reins of the project where we didn’t have the resources or people. Without their help, we can’t do any of it.”
The Galilee Gang let Hill and Marler know they would be contributing to the pantry as well as placing flyers in the neighborhood, but Marler said the World Tour-wide efforts were completely unexpected. The Galilee Gang arrived at the ministry site the morning of June 19, not only with their bags of food, but with two trunk loads of canned goods from World Tour in tow. Elliott said the ministry team wanted to keep the larger donation a surprise.
Hill and Marler said the pantry would be open to anyone in the area who needed food. Through the donations of World Tour participants, they said they would be able to meet those needs.
“The participants this week came with a challenge to change the world, and they are taking this challenge literally. Not only have they accomplished the goals set for them, but they are exceeding the goals by seizing additional opportunities to meet needs,” Creech said at the close of the week.
The Galilee Gang’s experience is one the teenagers will carry with them as a memorable World Tour experience, Elliott said. For her, she said such a moment illustrates why World Tour is important to both participants and benefactors.
“It think it’s important because, the way the organization is set up, there is encouragement there all week, and it shows you can really go out and witness. You take it home with you and really do apply it better,” Elliott said. “I think (a ministry like World Tour) shows these people that someone really does care — even people they don’t know.”

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  • Stephanie Lim