One of the mainstays of our volunteer program are the groups that come to help from various parishes, schools and summer programs. When the groups arrive, they bring so much energy and enthusiasm that we can’t help taking notice the minute they walk through the door.

Saint Mark’s Parish, Sutton MA arrived in late June in between rainstorms and took on our smash, bash, and slash (AKA making little ones out of big ones) work. The surest way to put a smile on a teenage boy is to give him a five-pound sledgehammer and say, “See that dining room chair, break it into small pieces.” And once said, you will need to move out of the area rather quickly because the length of time from when you say, “Go” until you hear the sound of smashing is instantaneous.

Saint Brigid Parish, Millbury arrived on a hazy, hot and humid day to help clean out some of the large furniture items. They took to the task with a vengeance. It wasn’t long before pieces of furniture came flying out of the pen area across the parking lot and into the shed! Right behind it came a young man with a very sheepish smile across his face, looking for it. He had the look of a man who had just conquered his arch enemy.

This is not an uncommon story. For many of the kids who come here, it is the very first time they encountered a sledgehammer, an electric saw, or bolt cutters. When they first start, they are somewhat timid, but give them an hour, a little instruction and they are off to the races. By the time it is time for them to leave, I would put them up against anyone, and I believe they would come out on top.

When they are leaving, we always tell every group, “If you didn’t come here today, the work you did would not have been done.” I often wonder if the groups that come to work here truly understand how important to us their labor was.

A volunteer from a parish student group smashes an unusable Little Store donation.