Hooper family enjoys serving at Southeast

Devyn, Ava, Dwana and Gabe Hooper volunteered to clean the Blankenbaker Campus sanctuary for a couple of months.

The sanctuary at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus has 3,211 seats on the ground floor and 2,434 seats in the first balcony. 

“We know every chair now,” said Devyn Hooper, 16.

For the last two months, Devyn, her mother Dwana and her siblings, Gabe, 15, and Ava, 13, have volunteered to help clean the sanctuary.

“After Sunday services, we’d wait for everyone to come out,” Devyn said. “We’d clean and restock the church. The three of us did the top and our mom did the bottom level.”

“Yes, there were a lot of communion cups to clean up,” Gabe added.

The Hoopers also disposed of bulletins and made sure seatbacks were stocked with pens, Bibles and offering envelopes.

“We left around 3:15 or 3:30 p.m., so it would take a good four hours to do the entire sanctuary,” Dwana said.

Since November 2018, the Hoopers, who are homeschooled, have been working toward earning the President’s Volunteer Service Award, which is bestowed by the president of the United States to volunteers who serve a certain number of service hours in a 12-month period.

Thus far, the Hoopers have served more than 100 hours.

How do you motivate three teenagers to serve behind the scenes?

Food, of course.

“We sort of made it fun because our mom takes us to Taco Bell or McDonald’s afterwards,” Devyn said. “Ava brought her iPod and played music during that.”

Ava and Devyn also volunteered as greeters and Gabe was a greeter, usher and communion server.

The Hoopers also volunteered with Operation Christmas Child and at the Salvation Army. They began cleaning the sanctuary in May.

“I have never seen a family with such servant hearts,” said First Impressions Guest Services Ministry Assistant Larry Casper. “Just wanting to serve, give back and love the Lord. They have been such a blessing to the church through their volunteering and have outdone themselves. They have been noticed, commented on and talked about what a wonderful attitude they have had.”

“Larry joked, ‘I have all this time on my hands now that you’re here,’” Gabe added.

June 30 was the last Sunday the Hooper children attended Southeast because their father, who works for Kellogg’s, was transferred to Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Hoopers have moved seven times in the last few years.

“It started to feel like a home to us,” Dwana said. “Like this is our house, we want to keep it nice. It made it feel like we were more a part of the church, like it was our church and we were taking care of it.”

During their last time cleaning up the sanctuary, Gabe left in style.

“Gabe stood on the platform because he just wanted to see what that would feel like on our last day,” Devyn said.

Casper added that the trio of teens will be greatly missed.

“They are three outstanding young adults that are so flexible and are willing to do what is needed or asked, and they all excel at what we have asked them to do,” he said.

The Hoopers hope the next batch of sanctuary servants will bring a lot of energy.

“Someone told us that Larry Casper and his wife, Sue, would do it before us, which would take them four or more hours,” Dwana said. “That’s too much for them. I hope they get some young kids to help them out.”