Vacation Bible School Gives Back
Local kids' mission work fills needs near and far
Wendi Lancy, Director of the Santa Clarita Division of Help the Children, marveled at what the kids from the Vacation Bible School (VBS) program at First Presbyterian Church in Newhall had done.
"I counted 70 food items in addition to the 182 packages of school supplies. The kids brought packages containing 25 to 50 pencils, or five erasers, or 200 sheets of paper. They brought note books, glue, scissors, rulers, and protractors. The kids even donated a number of backpacks. I think all the school items they brought will provide school supplies for 200 kids," she stated. "These items will go to 200 kids whose parents cannot afford to buy all the school supplies their children need. All of these school items will stay in the valley to help the children right in Santa Clarita."
These donations were the result of a mission project that makes up part of the VBS program.
Lori Crawford, who headed the mission project, exclaimed, "It is important that kids learn early to help people. We do a mission project each summer, and we try to make it real so the kids can see how they are helping. The need to help others is a desired trait and needs to be nurtured in youngsters."
During the week of June 22 through 26, children aged three years through sixth grade attended First Presbyterian Church, Newhall to learn about God. The VBS program, entitled Crocodile Dock, taught kids to be fearless and shine God's light. Everything took place among the bayous and crocodiles of 'somewhere' United States, where children learned the stories of Moses and Jesus. Through crafts, songs, stories, games, and a play, VBS students learned about God and his plans.
First Presbyterian Church partnered with Help the Children in an effort to emphasize missions work, especially the need close to home.
"From day one we had the collection boxes out, reminded our kids each day about the school supplies needed by youngsters in the valley, and sent home notes about the drive to raise school" explained Dorothy Ng, VBS director. "We really played up the mission project. Each day the kids could see what others were bringing in. The donations were tangible. A lot of the kids were excited."
Help the Children in Santa Clarita is a food bank created especially to help valley residents. It operated under the parent organization of the same name, based in Bell, which sends food, medicines, and other items across the United States and worldwide.
"The founder of Help the Children lives in Santa Clarita. He saw the need for food in his own neighborhood so he started the Santa Clarita office of Help the Children," Lancy explained. "This office collects and distributes food only in Santa Clarita. Later, we also saw that our parents had a hard time buying needed school supplies. This is how we started collecting school supplies. We start the school supply drive to collect items in July, and we distribute everything the first week in August, just in time for school."
Help the Children in Santa Clarita, formerly known as Hunger Defense Fund, has been heading the school supply program for a number of years.
"It is a big bonus for us that the kids collected so many school items. We are lucky that the leaders of the VBS program at First Presbyterian Church, Newhall wanted to help us in this project. We have a big need for school supplies. With all the items raised by the children, we will be able to give school items to a lot more kids."
In addition to the school supply drive, First Presbyterian invited children from Centro De Amor, a Spanish speaking church housed in the old Post Office Building in Newhall, to attend VBS, even offering scholarships.
"A number of their kids attended VBS. They fit right in, and it looked like they had a lot of fun. This is what we need to do," Crawford explained. "We are asked to give service. Bringing in children from Centro De Amor to participate in our VBS was just another way of doing what God wants us to do."
Crawford lamented that the church could not reach more kids. "We had 103 kids in our VBS program this year," she stated. "I wish we could have had more. The program touches children and lets them know that they can make a difference. One person, one kid, can make a difference."
Emphasizing the fact that Help the Children, a Christian based organization, puts ninety-nine cents out of every dollar into its programs, Crawford stated, "the organization plows everything it can into its programs. It allows people to shop for the food they need. The food VBS raised is desperately needed because the summer months are the hardest for food banks. People are on vacation and forget people need food every month." Taking in the accomplishment, Crawford whispered, "I saw all the pens, crayons, pencils... There are so many kids that need them. There will be a lot of kids with new school supplies. They will have everything they need for school. All these VBS kids did it."
Learn more about First Presbyterian Church.