Ready to serve: students from Western Canada arrive in Prince Albert ready to volunteer

Jason Kerr/Daily Herald. Staff and residents at the Herb Bassett Home in Prince Albert dance to YMCA at a dance party put on by volunteer students from The SERVE Project on Tuesday, July 2.

The SERVE Project: The Baptist youths serve in Prince Albert

Paul Emokhare and Uko Akpanuko, Daily Herald

The greatest form of love is selfless service to humanity and this is not lost on youth from SERVE who will be volunteering around Prince Albert for the next week.

Roughly 150 teenagers from the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada arrived in Prince Albert on Canada Day and began working on Tuesday. Every year, SERVE chooses a new Western Canadian city to volunteer in. The group has been doing this for 25 years.

“We go everywhere, as long as a Baptist Church is ready to host us,” said SERVE Director Peter Anderson.

This year the First Baptist Church in Prince Albert is hosting the SERVE Team. The volunteers are from thirteen different churches from all over Canada, and the SERVE project will last for a week.

“As Christians, we want to serve the world around us without asking for anything in return,” Anderson explained. “One way to do that is come to a city like Prince Albert and just ask ‘how can we be a blessing?’”

Emokhare Paul Anthony/Daily Herald. From left to right, Carl Papa, Peter Anderson, Hayoon Bae, and Keiscia Malenzia answer questions during a brief break on Tuesday, July 2.

For the next week, SERVE students will volunteer in a range of areas, including helping out in senior’s home, or doing some gardening, painting, or other forms of community beautification and clean-up.

“(It’s) whatever we can do,” Anderson said. “We just want to bless people and let them know that God loves them.”

For the volunteer students, it’s not only a chance to give back to the community, but a chance to grow too.

Student Carl Papa of Winnipeg is in his third year volunteering. The 18-year-old became interested after seeing his older sister take part in the program, and thought it was cool to travel away from home. However, he quickly realized there was more to it.

“For my first time in 2019, it was fun to go away from home, but as I served the community more, worshiped our Lord and learned more about him, I realized that it wasn’t really about being away from home,” he explained. “It was about being able to serve the community.”

Submitted photo. Roughly 150 students from The SERVE pose for a group photo prior to beginning a week of volunteer work in Prince Albert. The students are from a variety of places across Western Canada.

Papa said he still looks forward to the religious aspects of the trip, such as worship services and preaching, but loves the volunteer work too.

Fellow SERVE student Hayoon Bae of Vernon, B.C. is also in her third year of volunteering. She said they view themselves as ambassadors to whatever community they travel too.

“Serving people and going out into the community and doing those things is really serving God in a way we can to the best of our abilities,” she said.

Like Bae, 17-year-old Keiscia Maleniza also hails from Vernon. She said travelling to Prince Albert is a great chance to get to know other people from different backgrounds. Like Papa and Bae, she was also grateful for the camaraderie with other young Christians, and the chance to serve the community.

“We have a lot of similarities in common, and we can all help and serve our community together,” Maleniza said.

The SERVE Volunteers will be in Prince Albert and area throughout the week serving the community.

-with files from Jason Kerr/Daily Herald