In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells a parable about three servants who are given "10 talents" or money, to invest for their master. One of the three is scolded for burying the money instead of using it.
Recently, six young people who attend Grace Fellowship Assemblies of God, were given a similar challenge. They each were given $20 by the church, and urged to find ways to use it to help others.
Shortly after Trevor Heaton toured the Refuge of Hope in Canton, he decided to use his $20 as seed money to purchase all-day SARTA bus passes for the shelter's residents. Heaton said he got the idea from a flier he saw while touring the facility.
"I went in and talked to the guy who ran the place, and I saw there was need for that," he said.
The Fairless High School junior raised $380 more dollars by asking family and friends to match his original $20. The money was matched by SARTA, which covered 266 bus passes.
"People are willing to help when there's a need," he said. "It's refreshing for me to know that people out there are willing to help."
SHARING THE WEALTH
• Brycen Ludwig, 15, used his $20 to bake brownies and cupcakes, then offered them at a church bake sale, which raised $140. He is sending the money to a school in Belize, which will be used to repair their bus. In the past, the church has sent youth groups and missions teams to Belize.
"It feels great to get my hands into it and take the lead in ministry," he said. "I felt like we were able to be a help to people."
• Jessica Durben, 14, transformed her $20 into ingredients to make muffins and bread, then delivered them to "shut-ins" — people who are unable to attend services.
"I figured out that it wasn't just about raising money," said the Fairless High School freshman. "It was about figuring out how to care about people during the holidays."
• McKenzie Taylor, 12, also baked cookies, which she used to raise $100. She also enlisted help from the Gracenotes Choir, who held a benefit concert. The proceeds from both efforts were donated to the St. Vincent DePaul Society, a food pantry at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Massillon.
• Noah Fenningsdorph, a 12-year-old who attends Edison Middle School, donated his money to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. St. Jude's offers medical treatment to any child, free of charge.
• Kail Boughman, a 12-year-old aspiring soldier, donated his $20 to Operation Home Front, an organization which assists military families. The Boughman family also volunteered at a toy drive for military families held at the National Guard facility in Green.
"I worked as a greeter," he said. "I enjoyed watching everyone walk out of there with smiles."
Page 2 of 2 - His mother, Mica, said Kail found the organization on his own.
"He told me, 'I don't want to just give $20; I want to volunteer,' " she said. "We plan on volunteering for other events they have there."
ABOVE AND BEYOND
The Rev. Keith Stephens praised the group's creativity.
"I was impressed with the whole gang," he said. "My hope was not only that they would take something small and make it bigger, but that they would see some special needs and figure out what they could do about them ... They went above and beyond."
The project was proposed by Debby Heaton, church administrator and Trevor Heaton's mother, who said that she too was impressed with the results.
"I began thinking about what I myself would do," she said. "I was very pleased that the six of them used the resources so well and did some really great things for people. I would love to do it every year."
Some of the youth said the project made them more aware of how others live.
"Getting knowledge of the kind of conditions some other people live in reminded me of how good we have it," Heaton said.
Durben, an aspiring youth pastor, said the project also underscored the need to treat people with dignity.
"You need (to use) respect, to show people you care," she said.
In turn, the youth said they hope their efforts change how adults regard their generation.
"I think people look at teens differently than they should," Heaton said. "We're not all sitting around drinking."
Taylor said the challenge holds lessons for people of all ages.
"It shows that no matter how young or old you are, you can grab 20 bucks and help others," she said. "There's so much you can do."
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @cgoshayREP