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‘Christ’s hands on Earth’

Catholic youth travel to Fargo to volunteer at homeless shelter

Rugby CYO members rest near a church grotto on their trip to Fargo and Minnesota last summer.

RUGBY – Members of the Catholic Youth Organization at St. Therese Little Flower Parish in Rugby traveled to the Fargo-Moorhead area this past August for an opportunity to act as “Christ’s hands on Earth.”

“Our motto that (religious educators) keep telling us is ‘We are Christ’s hands on Earth,'” explained CYO member Amber Selensky, who said the organization’s purpose is “not just teaching how to do things, but actually going out into the world and being that change. Instead of just talking about it, we’re actually doing it.”

The youth spent Aug. 8-10 in Fargo-Moorhead to volunteer their time working with homeless people and later take in some attractions western Minnesota had to offer.

“On the first day (of the trip), Selensky noted, “We worked at the Churches United Homeless Shelter (in Moorhead, Minn.).”

Selenksy and fellow CYO member Alec Wolf told the Tribune they saw things they weren’t used to seeing at home in Rugby.

“We had a tour of the (shelter),” Selensky said. “We got to see people sleeping on benches, and there were families and people constantly coming in and out.”

Selensky added, “The first thing that we did, we cleaned up out front. We picked up a bunch of garbage around there, and we cleaned out weeds.” She said they also did yard work.

After the yard work, Wolf said the youth sat down for a meal with the shelter’s clients. “We ate with them,” he said.

The two said as they talked with people staying at the shelter, they learned a little about them and how homelessness affects their lives.

“As we talked, we got to know them,” Selensky said. “We found out that some of them were veterans, and some of them were just trying to get back on their feet, just coming from various places where they were stationed.”

“Their lives are pretty different from ours but they’ve come a long way to where they are,” Selensky noted.

Wolf said he saw families with children at the shelter too. The CYO volunteers emptied an extra room filled with bicycles and chairs to make it an overflow shelter room for a father, mother and children.

More work at the shelter included sorting donated clothing Churches United shelter gives to clients. “We sorted out clothes donations that they had. They collect a lot of clothes so we had to sort them out from men’s, women’s children’s. They have almost like a thrift store built into their facility so we stocked it with clothes,” Selensky noted.

After a day of work at the shelter, the youth spent the night at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Fargo.

“They have a church and school, and we slept in one of the classrooms in sleeping bags on the floor,” Selenksy said. “I think the idea was to camp at a random place you’ve never been to (as homeless people have to do) with just, like, carpet floors.”

The next morning, the group traveled back into Minnesota to socialize and take in some sites.

“We headed to Minnesota to go to Valley Fair. We were at Valley Fair from like 3 to 10. It’s got like water rides and rollercoasters and all that stuff,” Wolf said.

Both Wolf and Selensky said the group noticed how the lives of families enjoying the park differed from those of the families they had helped the day before.

After a visit to the park, the CYO members headed back west, stopping in Darwin, Minnesota.

“They have the world’s largest twine ball (in Darwin),” Wolf said.

“A man spent his entire life building a twine ball,” Selensky said. “It’s as tall as the door.”

“The case is probably as big as this room,” Wolf said with a laugh.

“It’s pretty much what Darwin’s known for. On their street signs, they have a little clip art of a twine ball,” Selensky said.

“It’s a pretty cool experience,” noted Wolf.

Selensky and Wolf said CYO members raised funds for their trip by holding a freewill rummage sale in the church basement earlier this year, and each member collected hygiene items to bring to the Churches United shelter.

“And they (the shelter) are really appreciative when you give donations,” Wolf said.

Wolf said the CYO holds fundraisers on a regular basis to donate to various charities and causes.

Once a month, the group holds what it calls “buck-a-luck” meals.

“Every month, the first Wednesday of the month at like 6, we go to the church basement, and we each pay a dollar, and we have a meal. Then, we have our CYO monthly meeting after it,” Wolf explained.

“People can pay more than that if they want to,” Selensky said, “but the money we get from that, we choose some kind of charity that’s in need.” She said they have helped people who need to have surgeries (to hospitals) or little babies. “We take our buck-a-luck money and give it to them,” she said.

For more information on the Catholic Youth Organization, call the Little Flower Office of Religious Education at 776-6388.

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