July 4, 2010 2:08:00 AM
Jan Swoope - firstname.lastname@example.org
Children attending Vacation Bible School at the Piney Grove United Methodist Church in Steens June 21-25 learned an important lesson the surest way -- by doing.
Bible School Director Mitzi Younger explained, "We decided our mission project would focus on the four servicemen from our church family and community who are deployed."
In order to fill a box to send to each service member -- Alan Hardin, Russ Hudson, Alan Steenstra and Harold Trimm -- the children brought offerings to help purchase items including powdered drink mix, dried fruit, hard candy and beef jerky. They also drew pictures and wrote messages to the men. For one little boy in particular, the project was very close to his heart. One of the box recipients will be 5-year-old Stephen Trimm''s dad, Harold, deployed with the National Guard in Afghanistan since October 2009.
"Stephen was really excited to be sending something to his dad, especially with his friends," said Marcie Trimm, Stephen''s mother. "It''s been a hard situation; Stephen''s just 5, and he''s never been away from his dad."
Younger said, "During closing prayer in my preschool class, Stephen asked God to keep his daddy and all the other soldiers safe."
A table decorated in America''s colors displayed pictures of the four servicemen all week. "It was to remind us who would receive our boxes filled with goodies, pictures and letters," the director said. "Their letters were impressive and touched the hearts of those who read them before packing the boxes."
Brooklyn Waldrep, 12, has been a lifelong Bible Schooler; this year she was old enough to be an assistant. The Heritage Academy seventh-grader helped children with their pictures and messages.
"I hope they (the soldiers) feel that we really do appreciate them going over there, and we just love them so much."
Tie a yellow ribbon
One of the photographs servicemen received is of the sign in front of the circa 1892 church building. It''s decorated with American flags and four yellow ribbons, one for each soldier.
"We told them the bows will remain until all four have returned safely home," Younger pledged.
A slide show presentation during Sunday service June 27 included pictures from the week of Bible School and ended with images of the soldiers.
"It had group pictures of the children holding American flags, and everyone at VBS Thursday night holding flags, to the Lee Greenwood song, ''Proud to be an American.'' I don''t think there was a dry eye in the church," said Younger. "This is what it''s all about, teaching them to be thinking of others. This what we''re supposed to be about as God''s people. ... We may be a small, country church, but our heart is big."
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.