While our main program for students is held on Sunday night, we are a very active group and have several other areas where our students also get involved. We encourage our students to actively participate in community service projects throughout the entire year.
STRIVE (Students Turning Responsibility Into Valuable Experience)is organized each February as a one-day serving opportunity to allow our students to learn about servanthood and sacrifice, while taking ownership in the Lighthouse Student Ministry’s activities and programs. We feel this service makes a difference in the environment, the community and the lives of students.
Operation STRIVE serves several purposes. 1) It gives students the opportunity to band together in an effort to improve the environment in their local communities, 2) It assists municipalities and other not-for-profit organizations with projects that might never be accomplished without a volunteer work force, and 3) It provides the student ministries of Heritage United Methodist Church with the financial support necessary to serve our students.
The students go out into the very vicinity in which they live to work for not-for-profit or public-supported organizations. They spend an 8 hour day doing things like landscaping, coastal clean-up, lite construction, cleaning, planting, and painting. This is a rewarding experience for the students because they see immediately how their hard work is improving the community in which they live. STRIVE truly makes a difference in our communities. Each year Pinellas County is over 1,200 hours cleaner and much needed community work is completed at no cost to residents.
Students seek out sponsors to make tax-deductible donations to the Lighthouse Student Ministry in exchange for the student giving a full Saturday of service in the community. In this program, each donator is actually benefiting two (2) non-profit organizations at the same time. For our students, this process gives them a sense of ownership for the ministry in which they are involved. STRIVE is a tangible way for them to see their participation become a win for the ministry, a win for the students and a win for the community.
We are hoping through this program that God not only blesses our ministry but our community will be blessed as well. They will see the work that our students accomplish, they will be able to spend some time interacting with our students and ultimately, for most of these job sites, they will get a glimpse of God.
“It’s encouraging to have so many students willing to donate their time and effort to impact the community. We all wear the same colored t-shirt on workday which I guess makes people take notice. Several ask us what we are doing and are pleased to see teenagers with a purpose and a common goal working together,” said Rev. DuBois.
“The folks in the Parks & Recreation Department are wonderful to work with; very organized. They made it easy and fun for the students to serve,” said Lora Freeman, a parent who helps with the event.