Mantua – The Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF) United, comprised of youth groups from three area churches, have been practicing their carpentry skills to raise money for an upcoming mission trip. The group of 18 area high schoolers from Hilltop Christian, Hiram Christian, and Mantua Center Christian Churches made Leopold Benches. The design for the benches came from reknown naturalist Aldo Leopold, who simply designed seating creates a spot perfect for observing nature. The benches were built to support a mission trip, scheduled for early June, where the group will assist residents of New Jersey affected by last fall’s Hurricane Sandy.

The-girls(1)Throughout the month of March, CYF members took orders for the benches, which were available in single-seat and double-seat capacity. Finish options included light or medium stain, green or red paint. CYF students worked with their youth leaders including Pam & Dave Auble, Brian Hurd, Audrey & Jeff Jackson, Roger McKinney, and Rick Painley, to complete the benches for delivery in late April.

Since this spring marked the first time the CYF attempted this type of fundraiser, they weren’t quite sure what to expect. Luckily, the community supported the project, and the kids, who received a whopping 75 orders. In addition, the group has received many requests for benches since the project’s completion. Youth leader Brian Hurd smiled, “While CYF may do another bench fundraiser in the future, the group is too busy with proms, final exams, and graduations to continue building benches prior to their mission trip in early June.”

Bench-building was good practice for the work that awaits the youth groups in New Jersey. Although they won’t know their specific tasks until arrival, the group is prepared for anything from demolition work to painting, or cleaning up outdoor areas from the aftermath of the hurricane. The group will be working with the Fuller Center for Housing in the New Jersey Pines.

“The kids get so into the mission trips, and really look forward to them,” explained Hurd. “Through these journeys, they have an opportunity to see another side of life they wouldn’t ordinarily see. They have an opportunity to discuss what these projects mean to them, and what it means for them to serve others.”

If you missed ordering a bench, but would like to support the CYF Mission Trip, stop by the CYF Rummage Sale this Saturday, May 18th from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at Mantua Center. If you’d like to provide donations in support of this worthwhile trip, each church can also accept financial donations, as well.

It has been said that to spy a Leopold bench in someone’s yard is to know something about the family who lives there. But to know a little something about the young adults who built that bench is an even greater story.