Houses, bridges and overpasses in Wichita may look a bit cleaner by the end of the week.
That’s when more than 200 teenagers and adult sponsors will complete Wichita Workcamp, a summer service project hosted by Northside Church of Christ. The middle school, high school and college students will power wash, scrape and paint 16 Wichita homes, paint over graffiti and seal and paint the floor of a local soup kitchen.
“We serve God by serving people,” said Toby Levering, a spokesman for the project, which is in its seventh year.
Other churches in Kingman; Topeka; York, Neb.; and Edmond and Shawnee, Okla., send youth groups to Wichita to volunteer in the service project, which began Tuesday and runs through Friday.
Carla Dobbs was one of the group’s team leaders. Her church in Edmond sent more than 90 youth members to Wichita for the five-day camp.
“It’s pretty cool, because (the students) show that serving other people is important to them,” Dobbs said. “Because instead of going to a football camp or some crazy, fun camp, they come here.
“And I know they have a lot of fun here, but they come and work a whole week, and I think it’s awesome that they put aside the time to do that.”
On Tuesday, a team of nearly 20 students traveled up and down Wichita’s Canal Route, painting over graffiti with paint rollers. The City of Wichita Park and Recreation Department oversaw the group, directing it to locations most affected by graffiti.
Albert Price, general supervisor for the department’s street services, said it would take the city about two weeks to do the same amount of work.
“We spend multiple hours down there, because we go paint over the graffiti and we just wipe it clean for someone to come back and retag it,” Price said. “And this helps, because we can get a lot knocked out in one day.”
AnnaBelle Little, a student leader for Wichita Workcamp, has volunteered with the summer camp since it began seven years ago.
“I just love the slogan ‘serving God by serving others,’ and so that’s always been something that’s close to my heart,” she said while rolling paint over graffiti. “It’s been fun planning and organizing and getting ready for the week.”
Other teams scraped and painted houses for elderly or disabled homeowners or sealed and painted the flooring at the College Crest Church of Christ’s soup kitchen near 25th Street North and Hillside.
“They enjoy opportunities to help folks however they can here in Wichita: painting houses, painting over graffiti and kind of beautifying the city,” said Randy Cochran, a parent sponsor from Edmond. “They always go back with an attitude that’s changed. It reminds them of why they’re here.”