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Youth volunteers from Chicago clean up Harbor Light

Voluntourism: Chicago kids come to Harbor Light

Added on Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I want to pull weeds, fold clothes and scrub sidewalks … said almost no one ever.

The key word there is “almost.” This past week, 24 young adults spent five days doing those and other projects – voluntarily, no less – at The Salvation Army Harbor Light Shelter in Minneapolis.

Even more impressive, they drove eight hours just to do the work. The group hails from Chicago, where they’re in a Salvation Army service group called Band of Survivors. Their trip to Harbor Light was part of an annual service project.

“Our goal with the project is to eradicate spiritual complacency,” said group leader Nate Irvine (pictured), Director of Youth Evangelism for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division in Chicago.

To that end, they spent their time immersed in food service and cleanup projects, Bible study, Bible verse memorization, nonstop prayer (literally – they rotated people 24/7) and media fasting with no TV, phones or Internet allowed. At night, they slept on Harbor Light’s floor.

The group also hung out with people served by Harbor Light, Minnesota’s largest homeless outreach facility. More than 400 people sleep there every night, some of whom offered personal accounts of what landed them there.

“Hearing the stories was eye opening for some in our group – it put them outside their comfort zone,” said Irvine, who brought the group to Harbor Light based on his visit there in February. “We’ve been blown away by what the Lord is doing here.”

Envoy Bill Miller, Harbor Light administrator, was delighted the group came.

“It was incredibly moving to see these people,” he said. “They did a fantastic job of blending right in – once you’re here, you’re family.”