MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — This Thanksgiving weekend we look forward to being with family and friends but for young people at one church in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, they are also making plans for a giving, and rewarding, summer mission.

It’s the holiday season and some young people in Martinsburg are spreading the spirit of hope far beyond Berkeley County.

Martinsburg is their home and in this seat of West Virginia’s fastest-growing county.

Wanda Swan is working with young people to extend a hand to the local community. That hand also extends to the core of Appalachia where the youth ministry visits less fortunate residents of Kentucky, helping them with homes in dire need of structural repair.

“It lifts the spirits of the people and it makes them happy to you know be able to enjoy their home again,” Swan said.

Luke Albright is just starting middle school and had a rewarding experience last summer helping families that needed basic flooring for their houses. So he put his best carpentry skills to work.

“We did a lot of work and I think they’re much more happier now,” Albright says, “and they live in a better house and they have a better life.”

Not only did Luke and his friends from church make life better for the Kentucky community they visited, but it was also a chance to make new acquaintances.

“It was really fun,” Albright says. “We got to meet a lot of friends. And I’d like to go next year.”

Meanwhile, Luke and his friends will be busy with school and church here in Martinsburg, making the most of the holiday season. t

The children, youth and family ministries are making plans for another trip to Appalachia this summer.

Wanda Swan with the Calvery United Methodist Church is planning a meeting with Martinsburg’s mayor, Kevin Knowles, this coming week about outreach projects in the city on which the youth ministry can be involved.