by Lisa Tome
Matthew Renzo found a unique way to avoid that pesky Black Friday shopping this year.
Renzo, 13, a Rising Sun Middle seventh grader, spent his Thanksgiving holiday weekend helping others.
He was part of a mini missions trip by a handful of Janes United Methodist Church. The group headed to West Virginia for home repair projects from November 24-28. Renzo's grandmother, Peggy Fleming, Chris and Butch Smythe, and Jim Eller also volunteered for this trip.
This is the second time in four months that Renzo has helped with home renovations. In August, he was part of a six day trip in which Janes youth and adults spent six days installing flooring and painting two homes in Charleston, W.Va. This time around, Renzo and the other volunteers worked nine hour days rehabilitating and aging home.
"I enjoy doing stuff for people we don't know. And I didn't want to go Black Friday shopping," joked Renzo.
While he didn't lend a hand to receive recognition, Renzo was lauded for his work. The work of the volunteers was featured in a West Virginia newspaper. He was also interviewed and featured on the TV news as part of the Hand On West Virginia project. Renzo worked alongside homeless natives. "It was cool," he said.
Working during the biggest feasting day of the year didn't mean he had to skip the Thanksgiving meal. He and others were served at a church in the area.
"I'd definitely do it again," he said.
His mother, Misty, isn't sure how she feels about that. She said having her son away on a holiday was a challenge. "It was different. I surely did miss him a lot and I couldn't wait for him to get home. But we were on Facetime and he was with my mom," she said.
In addition to his most recent service project, Renzo is also an honor student, active with Janes Youth group activities, and plays Rising Sun Little League. He also volunteers each year when Janes UMC hosts the rotating homeless shelter.