Missions Program Spotlight: Kate O’Laughlin

From outreach programs that touch the lives of communities both globally and locally to on-campus ministry opportunities that allow learners to experience and share God’s love, the OLu Missions Program is in its 25th year of supporting the mission of Orange Lutheran High School – helping students internalize the Gospel message of salvation in Christ Jesus.


Since 2000, OLu’s Missions Program has enabled Lancer students to provide service to others through various connection points such as attending mission trips, both in the U.S and abroad, and volunteering with community partners, churches and nonprofits right in our own backyard.


OLu senior Kate O’Laughlin got connected with the Missions Program beginning her sophomore year. As a freshman, she had some friends who had positive experiences in the program, so she enrolled in the Missions class elective course. She knew right away that she was part of a something unique.


“I thought it was really cool, and I feel like it's not something that you see basically anywhere else,” said O’Laughlin. “It has such a good community, and that definitely makes it really special.”


O’Laughlin joined the Missions class Local Engagement Team, which focuses on service projects that minister to the local community. She and other Lancer team members hosted events such as pumpkin carving with LOT318, a nonprofit that serves at-risk youth, as well as caregivers day-off events for those who care for foster children.   


“I feel like most of our projects had a focus on kids, so we got to work a lot with them, and that was always really cool because we got to meet like the sweetest people,” said O’Laughlin. “It’s a really good experience.”


In her junior year, O’Laughlin took her involvement with Missions to the next level by becoming a Missions class officer. She led the Local Engagement Team and worked with her classmates to plan and publicize the events. The team determined the areas of greatest need in the community, and she spearheaded the service projects, many of which were donation-type drives.


One of the service projects O’Laughlin and the team helped to organize was for the local nonprofit Project Giving Light. Through a campus-wide donation drive, OLu supported Project Giving Light’s Birthday Box program, an initiative that delivers birthday gifts each month to local foster and homeless children.


The Local Engagement Team also aligned with CHOC Children’s to make fleece-tie blankets for kids who visit the hospital’s outpatient infusion center. Each service event brought a sense of inspiration and gratitude to O’Laughlin and her fellow Lancers.


“It was always amazing to see how everyone would come together,” said O’Laughlin. “We would spend a few weeks planning a project, and then actually seeing all the volunteers show up and they brought what they were supposed to. It was simple, but seeing something come together, it has such a positive impact.”4-2


Outside of her work with the Local Engagement Team, O’Laughlin twice attended the Missions Program Appalachia trip, where OLu students travel to the Appalachian Mountains to serve the people of Eastern Kentucky. Never having visited that region of the country before, she was thankful to be able to serve others in a hands-on setting. 


“It was such a great experience,” said O’Laughlin. “I worked on two different houses, one each year, and I got to meet the people who live there. They were really sweet, and they were so strong in their faith. Just having the opportunity to see all that was really cool.”


Being able to participate in OLu’s Missions Program for three years has contributed to a unique and memorable high school journey for O’Laughlin, one that has expanded her view of what it means to love and serve your neighbor. The opportunities provided by the Missions Program not only impact the lives of others, but allowed her to grow in her relationship with Christ.


“It’s nice to be a part of a community that is so close knit and centered in their faith,” said O’Laughlin. “It’s been a big part of my high school experience, and I feel like it's definitely helped a lot in growing in my faith.”


As the OLu Missions Program prepares for its 25th Anniversary Jubilee on Saturday, April 20, it will be a time to both reflect back and look forward in celebration of the impact this ministry has had on the lives of the many Lancer students and community members it serves.


“I know that if I hadn't joined (the OLu Missions Program), the past few years would have been completely different,” said O’Laughlin. “I've met a lot of people that I wouldn't have [been able] to meet otherwise. I got to do a lot of things I never saw myself doing, and I'm really grateful for that. And I feel like I've been able to grow as a person through these experiences too. I'm really grateful for my time in Missions.”

Join the OLu Missions Program for a special evening of praise, fellowship and thanksgiving in honor of the ministry’s 25th Anniversary Jubilee on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at 4:00pm at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Orange. Visit lhsoc.org/missions for ticket and registration information.

25th logo black and gold (2)


Topics from this blog: Missions Meet a Lancer