Building Swing Sets as Symbols of Hope

Hope SwingsCampus Ministries’ annual spring break mission trip sent 20 student volunteers to Washington, Ill., to build swing sets for families affected by the November 2013 tornado. “Hope Swings in Washington” is a project sponsored by the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church and three Washington area UMC churches. McKendree students assembled the prototypes for 100 swing sets that other youth groups built and distributed this summer. They also sorted donated clothing and helped with the ongoing cleanup in neighborhoods where houses were leveled by 200 mph winds.

Andy Rettke ’16 and his family lost their home in the EF4 tornado. “The feeling I get seeing my fellow peers come and help where I lived for a while makes me feel like they have my back,” said the McKendree sophomore.

“This mission trip presented the perfect opportunity for students to see that they do not need to travel far to find real need,” said Rev. Dr. Tim Harrison, McKendree chaplain and director of church relations. “Helping our neighbors is as important as traveling across the country or overseas. The trip was a reminder of how in a matter of seconds lives can change forever and that the smallest gesture can be a great encouragement to others as they rebuild their lives.”