Two weeks ago, I had a mission week with my Jr. High youth. We "gave back" to our community. It was a lot of fun and a lot of good work. There were ten students total and four volunteers (plus myself) who helped out throughout the week
We worked with Spark Foundation. We bought school supplies and assembled ten kits to send to the Mzesa school in Africa. We also learned how to make friendship bracelets by finger weaving (a style of friendship bracelet I learned to make back in my days as a counselor at UM camps in southern Indiana). We kept making bracelets all week long. By the end of our week (Thursday was our last day), we had made seventy-nine!
We volunteered at Westminster Food Pantry. Our church collects items year-round to donate to this particular food pantry. They are just a block away (however, it was over the construction and around the block to reach them). They serve the immediate downtown area and are only open a couple days a week. A person will walk in, hand over their id (proof of their address, if they live outside the area that Westminster serves, they are told where they can find their local pantry, but are likely given food that day), be entered into a computer database (part of the funding grants provide is collected from this database), wait to be called over for an "interview" (the interview is where they pick several items from different columns on a marker board), the list is given to the kitchen volunteers, the kitchen volunteers pack bags full of the grocery/toiletries as selected in the interview, and then the person is called up to a table to receive their "groceries".
It's a lot faster and easier than all of that.
The ten students chose which area they wanted to volunteer and took their station. We had a very busy morning. I don't know how many people came through, but it had to have been close to fifty.
The people who visit the food pantry are only allowed to come in once a month. They also receive an extra item if they bring in their own bags. That got a little confusing back in the kitchen. The sheet with their chosen items would also tell what type of bag they brought. Except that the descriptions were a little vague at first. "Black bag" belonged to several different owners at one point. Once we started to clarify details on the bags (black with blue handles, black with "Spartan") it went faster and easier.
Each student had the opportunity to switch spots. I'm very proud of them for trying things that were out of their comfort zone and never once complaining about any of the tasks.
We volunteered with Kids Food Basket. In the morning, we met for a "poverty simulation". We split up into three groups and were given actual scenarios and had to budget accordingly. The coordinator from KFB, Catrina, was thoroughly impressed with the youth. She told them that their questions were better than any high school groups she had. She was also very impressed with how well they thought outside the box.
Again, no one got frustrated, even after "reality checks" were thrown at us (not literally, although that could make the simulation more stimulating).
We went with the Arts Alive Camp to Howell Nature Center. We took a tour of the Global Village. We did a low ropes course and we saw the wild/native animals that HNC cares for.
We also helped keep track of money raised to buy a goat during the Arts Alive Camp (our church's version of VBS, except completely different). On Monday, one of my students drew a goat on a poster board. To keep track of dollar amounts, she added flowers. Each flower represented $10. The first day they had collected $20. The pastor challenged the Arts Alive campers. If they collected the $120 to buy a goat, he would match it and donate the money for a second goat!
On Tuesday, it was announced that an anonymous donor said if the kids collected $120 and the pastor donated $120, that another $120 would be given for a third goat.
Guess what happened on Wednesday?
Another donor stepped up. If these kids collected $120, Heifer International was going to get four goats.
Back to Tuesday. After we finished working at Westminster, Dairy Queen was on our minds. I called the church to let the director know that we wouldn't be back in time to announce how much money had been collected that morning ($90). The director had been given more money throughout the day and, once we did the quick math, we realized we had reached our $120! But since the Jr. High group wouldn't be there to announce it, we would just save it for Wednesday afternoon.
Why not see how much we could collect on Wednesday morning?
We collected another $120 is what we collected.
We didn't just get one goat, or two goats, or even four goats. We had enough money for FIVE goats.
I'm sure after it was announced that Sunday in church that more money came in. I haven't heard though. I also know the director was thinking that maybe instead of goats we could buy a cow or some chickens. (I think the goat is the cheapest "gift" animal through Heifer International, but I'm not sure. You can look it up!)
I don't know what happened in church on Sunday, because at 5:45am Friday morning, Bill and I were flying to Savannah for a wedding.
The wedding of the young woman who was a flower girl in our wedding.
She should not be allowed to get married.
Except it's too late and she is. He is a very nice young man and I think they are perfect together. We wish them both many years of happiness and love.
While in Savannah, I had started reading, "The Hunger Games". Finally. Skylar had sold me on reading them and then let me borrow them. I took the first one... Once I started, I didn't want to stop. I finished it before we made it home Sunday night. Then I devoured (pun intended) the second one in two days. I only stopped to eat, sleep and work. I finished the third one over this last weekend.
I realized I could write this post and double the meaning of the title. And also explain where I've been and why I haven't blogged.
We also finished the hallway. But that has nothing to do with being hungry or reading books. So I'll post pictures and tell that story later...