SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — It wasn’t a typical morning most college students have during Spring Break.
This group began their day with a 6:30 a.m. beach cleanup that helped clear more than 50 garbage bags full of discarded trash.
From free pancake breakfasts and rides to beach cleanings and free dinners for first responders, the Beach Reach church ministry, based in Canyon, near Amarillo, has provided free services to the Island community during Spring Break for the past 39 years.
Hundreds of college students volunteer each year to share the Gospel of Jesus with the people they meet while providing free food and transportation to spring breakers.
Coordinator Buddy Young said Beach Reach gave about 12,000 rides, provided pancake breakfasts for about 8,000 people and saw 79 people “turn their lives around and come into a relationship with Jesus Christ” during the first week of Spring Break.
Young explained Beach Reach’s “two-fold goal” — creating a safe environment for students celebrating Spring Break and providing a spiritual influence in their life.
He said Beach Reach volunteers always offer to pray with the spring breakers they help and there are very few who say they don’t want to pray with them.
“We don’t do it in an abrasive way. We do it in a very open and honest way,” Young explained. “If they want to talk about that it is fine and if not, it doesn’t matter. We’ll give them a safe ride. That doesn’t have to be the conversation.”
According to Young, a girl helped by Beach Reach last week told a volunteer they not only provided her physical support, but also spiritual guidance that helped her get back on track with God.
“She sent a text back to one of our volunteers saying if it wasn’t for us being there, she doesn’t know what would have happened to her,” Young said.