E. Texas teens take Thanksgiving dinner to Joplin - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

E. Texas teens take Thanksgiving dinner to Joplin

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Thanksgiving is not only a day to give thanks, but it's also a day that a lot of people take the time to help someone else that's having a tough time.

And a group of kids from Martins Mill Baptist Church are taking this to a whole new level.

They're leaving Tuesday afternoon to travel to Joplin, Missouri to serve Thanksgiving dinner to people they met this summer after they traveled there to complete some construction projects and help the city rebuild after a large tornado in May destroyed much of the city.

"It really is amazing how people can step up during a time like that and be strong to everyone around them," says Austin Wheeler, who turns 16 on Tuesday.

Austin says he told the people he met in Joplin that he and his friends would be back.

"The kids wanted to go back. They asked us if we could go back, and that was the only time that would work with our schedules as far as school. So we told them we would pray about it and we would try and see if it worked out," says Cortney Thomas, one of Martins Mill Baptist Church's youth ministers.

They originally planned to help with a few construction projects during this trip, but then another idea came up.

"As we contacted the church that we stayed at last time that housed us, we explored a desire to provide a Thanksgiving meal for the people in that neighborhood," says youth pastor Bruce Thomas.

They've collected enough green beans and corn to feed 600 people Thanksgiving dinner.

"Our heart is just to be what Jesus has told us to do, which is feed the people that are hungry," says pastor Matt Parker.

"It's funny, in the middle of a service project, they're like, Oh, can we do this again? We want to do this again. They just have a heart for service," Cortney Thomas says.

And the students seem to agree.

"We've done many, many volunteer jobs and we grow really close each time we do one," Austin Parker says.

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