Edmore youth leadership makes a difference

By Robin Miller • Last Updated 2:33 pm on Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Madelyn Karcher of Blanchard began Project Backpack in 2006. (Daily News/Robin Miller)

EDMORE — Today’s youths become tomorrow’s leaders. At the Endeavor headquarters in downtown Edmore, area youths have already assumed leadership roles.
The first Christian Endeavor Society was formed in 1881 in Portland, Maine, to allow youths to take an active role in the church and community. Today, the organization, renamed Endeavor, extends to more than 60 nations around the world with more than 1,400 groups started in the United States during the last nine months alone.
The organization helps introduce, develop and nurture leadership opportunities in youths, according to Tim Eldred, pastor of New Beginnings Church in Six Lakes and CEO and president of Christian Endeavor International
He said unlike most youth programs, Endeavor is led entirely by young people.
“For 130 years Endeavor has given youth opportunity to put their passion and concerns into real action,” Eldred said. “The kids fund and organize every activity, start to finish. They want to feel significant and the best way to feel good is to satisfy someone else’s needs.”
Eldred’s son, Parker Eldred, an honor student and athlete at Montabella High School, has a passion for helping others. Parker’s involvement with Endeavor has allowed him to help others and develop leadership qualities and life skills.
“At Endeavor, we work in teams, which really helps you become a leader,” he said. “It also prepares teens for the next level of life and teaches them how to work with others to accomplish a task.”
The Edmore Endeavor group meets Sunday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. with a weekly fluctuation in attendance among the 50-member total. Some meetings are merely social gatherings where kids hang out, watch movies or play games. Others are used to brainstorm, develop and organize a service project.

Project Backpack

In 2006, 9-year-old Madelyn Karcher of Blanchard approached the church council at New Beginnings Church in Six Lakes with an idea to help less fortunate children get back-to-school supplies. This young girl’s idea was the inspiration behind the development of Project Backpack. The project was turned over to Endeavor in 2009 and has expanded from serving 30 children to more than 200 this year. During the annual event, students received a backpack, hygiene kit (shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste and floss) and school supplies, all secured through donations from local churches and businesses. Hair stylist volunteers provided free haircuts. “I can’t believe my little idea has had such a big impact,” said Karcher, currently a high school freshman. “Who would have believed that, with the help of a few friends and a couple adults, one girl could make such a big difference?”
Feeding America food distribution

The depressed economy and unemployment have made it difficult for many families to put food on the table. In January, Endeavor recognized this issue and paid for and distributed more than 10,000 pounds of food obtained from the Feeding America network to families in surrounding communities. Tim Eldred said he’ll never forget the words of the Feeding America truck driver in response to seeing the parking lot full of youth volunteers.
“How’d you get all these kids here?” the truck driver asked. “I’ve delivered hundreds of loads of food and never witnessed participation by so many young people.”
Eldred responded by saying, “These kids are leaders. They are the reason we’re here and the motivation behind the entire project.”
Endeavor partnered with the Edmore Lions Club for a second food distribution at Christmastime last year and plans to join them again this year.

Upcoming Events
• Community Rake Day, Nov. 6, 2 to 5 p.m.: The youths will gather for lunch at New Beginnings Church and then head to the Endeavor Youth Center in Edmore at 2 p.m. to rake up the town.
• Christmas event: The Endeavor youth are in the beginning stages of planning a new Christmas event which will take place during this year’s Edmore Hometown Holiday celebration. The tentative plan is to allow low-income families to shop for free from a variety of practical household items.
For more information, go to www.christianendeavor.com.

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