Reaching out to build playhouses

By Tony HebertAs toddler Lucas Smith laid eyes on his new playhouse for the first time, his face immediately became curious. When the house was placed in the backyard, he crossed the threshold and was instantly captivated.

Though he was shy, his appreciation was expressed by his eagerness to explore the playhouse, which UMHB’s Reaching Out had  provided.

About 300 students engaged in the annual community outreach on Saturday, March 24. It was a day set aside for the student body to serve alongside one another for the purpose of sharing God’s love with the  community.

The event began with a morning worship service on the lawn of Luther Memorial. From there various groups were sent out on mission projects.

One ministry opportunity  was aimed toward the children of local military families. Members of student organizations such as First Year Council, the Student Government Association and the Campus Activities Board delivered playhouses that had been built for the  children.

The houses were assembled the previous Thursday in the quad by volunteers from some of the same student organizations. It became apparent that the students who volunteered to help with this particular outreach loved the sense of community.

Senior Christian ministry major Jonathon Davis, freshman nursing major Katelyn Kretzer and freshman Sarah Fields help build playhouses for children of military families. They were constructed and put on display in the quad. Photo by Tony Hebert.

As trucks parked in front of the Mabee Student Center were being loaded with the playhouses, groups of volunteers stood in circles talking excitedly about the experiences that were to come. Each truck left Belton for a different destination in a nearby Central Texas town.

One such destination was the home of Lucas. The Smiths have lived in Killeen for just over a year. They moved to Texas after being previously stationed in Washington, D.C., Missouri and Georgia. Amy Smith and her sons James and Lucas welcomed the group of Campus Activities Board members into their backyard.

Lucas, the toddler of the family, was intrigued when the house was carried into the yard and placed next to the swing set. His eyes brightened as he opened the door to his new playhouse.

One of the highlights of his experience was the toy phone attached to the kitchen wall. When a volunteer asked whom he was speaking to, he replied, “Grandma.”

Three-year-old Lucas Smith steps out of a newly built playhouse, constructed by students at Reaching Out. Photo by Tony Hebert.

Because Lucas has two dogs to contend with, a couple of the volunteers painted a “no dogs allowed sign” to hang on his front door.

Lucas’ mother, who serves in the military, expressed repeatedly that the outreach was a “fantastic” idea. She was grateful to see Lucas enjoying the new playhouse.

She knew about the project through her husband.

She said, “My husband is a student at UMHB and he found out through Jeff Mars, a nontraditional student representative.”

After the playhouse was  built and the sign hung on the door, the group of Campus Activities Board members stayed and talked with the family for a while. As the volunteers left, the Smith family stood by the playhouse with their dogs and waved  goodbye.

Members of the group expressed positive views of the experience.

Freshman nursing major Allison Toy, a Campus Activities Board member said, “For me the best part of it was getting to see little Lucas already so excited to play in the house. I loved seeing him already talking on the play phone, opening and closing the shutters and ringing the doorbell a hundred times.”


Author: The Bells Staff

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