A group of teens are leading a helping hand to charitable organizations across London, Ont. in a unique way.

Pulling weeds, helping with heavy lifting, getting food hampers ready; they are all part of a youth mission called Serve.

Approximately 50 teens between the ages of 14 and 18 from across the country as well as Michigan, have paid their way to come to London and make a difference.

“We work with a number of different agencies that work with the impoverished and it opens their eyes to what poverty really looks like and is very real,” says Serve organizer Heather Fieten.

One of the organizations that has welcomed the Serve team for many years is Anova, an organization that provides a safe space and shelter for abused women and children.

Anova's Carolyn Smale says, “As soon as these youth walk through our doors they’re sending the message that, 'You know what? Community does care and you’re surrounded by community.' And they will share that message today with women and children. They will change the ambiance and by the end of the day it’s amazing the feeling.”

Some of the youth have participated in Serve before, but for 15-year-old Keena Veldhuizen this is his first year and he’s looking forward to making a difference.

“I just really want to be able to help others and make an impact so that when people come back next year people will see the shirts and know we are here to help them.”

Those who benefit from the community work say it’s amazing to watch the teens give up a portion of their summer to help others.

Fieten adds, “This is also the age where they are starting to understand they are an important part of their community they are starting to think about justice issues and starting to think about what’s my place in the community.”

Youth leader Paul Heerema says it’s also an eye-opening and learning experience for the adults.

“Sometimes the needs in your own community aren’t clear and when you see them here, then you realize there are the same needs in my own community and what can I do in my own community to benefit those around me.”

The youth will be rotating among various services and organizations all week and return home on Saturday.