Elgin teens building home for tornado victim

May 24, 2013 (ELGIN, Ill.)

A local youth group felt that way when a tornado decimated the town of Joplin, Missouri back in 2011. Residents there continue rebuilding.

At least one family will receive some extra help, as some teens in Elgin show their Spirit of Giving.

Groups of teenagers don't get to build a house every day.

"I've never like chopped wood before... so it's really fun," said Kelly Johnson, 15, one of the teens in the group. The work is for a cause they have been committed to since 2011. The youth group at First United Methodist Church in Elgin visited Joplin, Missouri two years ago just after a massive tornado hit that killed 116 people. What they saw during that trip had a profound effect on them.

"The first time, it was really hard-hitting," said Glen Johnston, 16. "One side of the street looked fine, but the other side was complete destruction. The houses were leveled."

After going back three times to volunteer with clean-ups and repair work, the group decided they had to do more. They are building a whole house in their church basement. Eventually, they will have to move it out.

"It's a ranch. It's just 24 by 36. I think it's 864 square feet," said church musician and volunteer Mark Johnson. "We are limited... to 94 and a half inches high by eight-foot-six... that's our limit on the length of walls."

Despite the limitations, the volunteers believe the gift they are giving is immeasurable. The house will be delivered to a woman who lost everything.

"She's as amazed as we are building this project," said youth leader Keith Duncan. "She's amazed that somebody who doesn't have any connection with her... would just pour out all of this work for someone who we don't even know."

The group is leaving to deliver the house on June 9th. They will have five days to put it together, including adding a roof and siding. They are trying to raise $45,000 to pay for the materials to finish the house on the inside.


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