Last weekend, almost 400 passionate students and adults flocked to the Mid-Ohio Valley from all across the country ready for a week of work. While their peers back home sport flip flops and take selfies at the beach, these students are proud to instead wield paint brushes and rollers while they spend their vacation serving others.

For the past 16 years, the Mid-Ohio Valley Work Camp has been giving young people an opportunity to serve local residents in need. The first year, approximately 100 young people from the MOV painted six houses. Started by local youth ministers from the Church of Christ, it has grown each year both in numbers of houses painted and students participating. Workers, mostly teens, have come from the Mid-Ohio Valley and beyond, as far as Florida and Connecticut. Prior to this week, the group has painted a total of 386 houses through the camp.

That number will jump to 421 houses in a few days.

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Houses are being freshly painted all over the valley, including Belpre, Parkersburg, Vincent, Williamstown, Vienna, Marietta and Davisville. Although it’s hard work, the students don’t show it, smiling and joking with each other while they paint. They’ll tell you that seeing the smile on the homeowners face is worth every paint stroke.

“MOV Work Camp is all about service and doing something for others without expecting anything in return,” says Camp Director Ryan Ice. “We want to instill in our young people a servant’s heart and awareness of how they have the ability within them to help fulfill community needs.”

In their down time, students are encouraged to check out the area by eating at local restaurants and exploring downtown. Students also participate in worship time each day during lunch at local churches and again in the evening when they return to campus. On Thursday evening, the homeowners are all invited to campus for a special showing of a Before & After video of all of the homes that were painted during the week.

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The impact on both the community and the students is long lasting. The bonds formed this week will stay with them and be something they treasure for years to come. For some of these homeowners, just having the company is a blessing in itself. “One homeowner is a recently single truck driver,” Ryan shares. “He just found out that he has cancer and will be going through chemotherapy alone. When one of our guys initially stopped by to ask about painting the house for him, the gentleman said he thought our guy was an angel.”

Want to help out? You can help further the efforts of the camp next year by making a donation on their website. On average it costs about $1,000 for MOV Work Camp to paint a house. Students pay a minimal fee of $85 to spend the week at camp, so the camp is always looking for local partners to help sponsor houses. Some of their current sponsors include WV Central Credit Union, Peoples Bank, the McDonough Foundation, the City of Vienna, Wood County Commission, the Marietta Community Foundation, Belpre Rotary Club, and the DaVita Group.

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Better yet, if you are out and about this week and happen to see these diligent workers painting, just stop for a second and tell them how much you appreciate their hard work. Come next week, the students will be back in their hometowns, while bright, newly painted houses stand as a testament of their work throughout our community.

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