Sounds of power tools and laughter rang throughout the Furniture Bank on a Wednesday afternoon. Middle school volunteers from Christ Church Youth Group came with smiles and lots of energy to build kitchen tables for fellow community members.
“CARITAS is probably the most mentioned, most satisfying service that we’ve done at Christ Church Episcopal,” said Lee Muckey, a chaperone of the group.
“It’s good to see that you do have adults out there intentionally trying to get younger people involved,” CARITAS Warehouse Project Manager Michael Rogers said. “It takes effort from both.”
Building Tables for Families
Lee and his students kicked off their furniture build learning more about CARITAS and touring the Furniture Bank warehouse. Ellie, a middle school volunteer, learned “that CARITAS does more than what our church does.”
Christ Church hosts Shelter about three times a year. The church campus also has a shed to store donations for CARITAS programs and CARITAS Solutions comes to pick them up when the shed is full.
Michael prepares the lumber for each group to create their tables or bed frames. The Christ Church group chose to create kitchen tables. CARITAS serves nearly 30 families a week at the Furniture Bank and bed frames and kitchen tables are always in demand.
During the nearly two years that Michael has worked at CARITAS, he “never had someone who couldn’t build the table.” Each group receives a packet of step-by-step instructions, and Michael trains them on the go. Michael previously worked in construction and came to CARITAS as an Americorps service member after graduating from VCU.
Each group pays a fee per table they opt in to build. This helps CARITAS purchase wood from a local lumber yard and vinyl for the top of the table. After building the wooden frame, groups use a staple gun to secure a vinyl covering.
Preparing the Next Generation
“It’s important to teach the next generation about serving the community,” Michael said.
Michael and other CARITAS staff members explain the importance of the furniture youth groups build and the furniture they donate. Thanks to the work of Christ Church’s youth group, now two families can enjoy meals together, work on homework together, and build a life around their new kitchen table.
“Our particular focus for this activity was to get a better understanding for what life is for the less fortunate than them in their own city,” Lee said. “Hearing the connection between what they’re doing and the families in need greatly increases their understanding of the world.”
Furniture build projects play a vitol role in helping CARITAS serve families in need, but the activity also relies on team building skills. Everyone has a job and there are often problems to be solved as a group.