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UMArmy invades Orange

ORANGE — An army supplied with hammer, nails and drills invaded Orange on Thursday.

The United Methodist Action Outreach Mission by Youth (UM Army) is a group, consisting of over 1,000 youth and adults throughout Central, South and West Texas, sacrifice a week of their vacation to give to others. Using a local church as a home base for camp, participants spend the week providing work for low-income, elderly, and disabled homeowners in the surrounding areas. Projects include general repairs and clean up, building wheelchair ramps, porches, steps, handrails, painting, and mowing. Their mission is to provide Christ centered, quality youth work camps that serve people in need while promoting spiritual growth and leadership development in youth.

The organization contacts area agencies, schools and county offices who may be aware of certain needs within the community that fit within the scope of the work.

The group is not licensed electricians or plumbers and will work within the capabilities of the team.

There is no cost to the client and all materials are donated.

U.M. ARMY began in 1979 when 36 youth and adults from Houston area churches decided that rather than go to Tennessee for a mission project, they would save the travel money and spend it working on needs near home. The high cost of gas, long lines at gas stations and concerns about whether or not the group could make it there and back caused them to consider building a new ministry right in their own backyard.

A team, with staff member Eric Keller, worked in 102-degree weather Thursday to build a ramp for a woman who could not be released from the hospital until her home was equipped with a wheelchair ramp.

“This is the first time we had one like this,” Bob Sime of Sugarland said. “Usually we make life easier for people.”

Sime said the kids who volunteer inspire him.

“There are so many not doing anything during the summer,” Sime said. “Here I am able to pass on some skills and serve some people. I get more blessings than I try to give away.”

Sarah Thomas, 16, of Sugarland, said she likes seeing the clients face when they finish.

“We just finished a ramp for a man who could not use his steps,” Thomas said. “He was so excited when he saw the ramp.”

Thomas said the final touch for the ramp they were working on would be a banner reading ‘Welcome Home’.

“Knowing she could not come home without a ramp gives us more motivation to finish the ramp,” Thomas said.

Justin Chevalier, 15, of Missouri City, said the camp is beneficial for the workers as well.

“I have learned how to help out, work well with others, meet deadlines and work more efficiently,” Chevalier said.

Alex Wolf, 21, of Sugarland, agreed.

“It helps revive my faith,” Wolf said. “I am able to help people in need and become a better person and make good friendships.”