Wednesday evenings at John Wesley United Methodist Church (JWUM) are busy, with several groups of all ages meeting to share a meal, practice their singing, study the bible, and plan their projects. Hope Murphy, Director of Children’s Ministries, is meeting with the Kids’ Council, a group of about 30 second through fifth graders, to whom Hope is teaching the importance of having a “servant’s heart.” Throughout the school year, this group of children will plan and carry out mission-related service projects that benefit area nonprofits, including HALOS, as well as local schools and nursing homes. And they do this work in fun and innovative ways.
Each summer, JWUM runs a volunteer-led soccer camp in Ackerman Park that is open to their members and to the community. For each child that plays, a $75 fee is collected that goes into the Kids’ Council Mission Fund to pay for service projects throughout the year. This “for children, by children” mission fund is used to help HALOS send children to summer camp, as well as to provide Thanksgiving baskets to families in HALOS’ Kinship Care Program. The council is also able to help children involved with HALOS at back-to-school time, at Christmas, and for their birthdays, as well as give to other nonprofits and elementary schools in the area. The group made 147 Easter baskets this year for families at Mary Ford Elementary School!
Birthday salutes are the newest way that the Kids’ Council at JWUM has become involved with HALOS. Children meet and form “teams” at Walmart, and each child picks out the birthday gift, plus the card and gift bag, for the child whom they are sponsoring. The children love to fill out the cards and wrap the gifts, and tell other children about what the experience means to them. Helping their parents shop for gifts for the HALOS Holiday Tree program provides an example to the children of how mission work continues throughout life.
The kids often have fun get togethers while doing their service projects, and employ other creative techniques to raise mission funds. On “Parent’s Night Out,” children pay “admission” to see a movie at the church, which goes into the fund. Events like this one provide JWUM with an opportunity to reach out to the community and bring children and adults together to meet their mission of service.
The children who participate are eager to share why they love this kind of service. “It feels good to give back, because we have so much–we’re so gifted,” a young man shared. And other group members shared their positive feelings about giving to children in need: “It makes me happy,” said one. “When we’re shopping for birthday gifts,” said another, “I am thinking of the kid and what I would want if I were her and in her situation. I think about how I would feel if I were her.” The positive impact of these activities radiate from the children at JWUM; they are very sincere, friendly, and caring–and truly impressive!
With the summer also comes Vacation Bible School at JWUM. The Kids’ Council takes this opportunity to collect school supplies and backpacks for HALOS’ Back-To-School program. And during Thanksgiving, they set up a “grocery store,” filling boxes with nutritious holiday food and thoughtfully decorating the boxes with cheerful holiday pictures and messages of hope.
We at HALOS give special thanks to Hope, the Kids’ Council, and the dedicated members of John Wesley United Methodist for all they do for children in our community! Thank you for inspiring us all to have a “servant’s heart”!