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Examiner
  • Frank Haight: Kids turn party on its head and give to others instead

  • Work. Work. Work. That’s what students in Vicki Dent’s third-grade class at Plaza Heights Christian Academy in Blue Springs did in a Christmas-giving project that netted Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency, more than $500 to aid the world’s poor, sick and suffering.

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  • Work. Work. Work.
    That’s what students in Vicki Dent’s third-grade class at Plaza Heights Christian Academy in Blue Springs did in a Christmas-giving project that netted Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency, more than $500 to aid the world’s poor, sick and suffering.
    Looking for a make-a-difference humanitarian project for her 16-member class, Mrs. Dent searched no further after reading in a Samaritan’s Purse catalog about the need for money to provide Third World countries with dairy animals, chickens, bikes, household water filters and scores of other necessities.
    Excited about the possibility of involving her class in an international-giving project, Dent suggested to “room mothers” Teresa Sperry and Lisa Apking that instead of having a gift exchange at the class Christmas party, why not refocus the emphasis from receiving to giving to Samaritan’s Purse.
    Both Sperry and Apking applauded Dent for her terrific idea. They jumped aboard the bandwagon and challenged the class to raise money for the project by doing extra chores at home.
    The excited children responded wholeheartedly, knowing that for every dollar they collected, an anonymous business donor would match it.
    Says Sperry: “My son (Matthew) was walking the dog on a leash because he knew I was going to give him some money every time he did it.”
    Matthew, though, wasn’t content with just walking his dog. He was driven to do more. He took birthday money from his piggy bank, telling his mom, “I want to do this.” He also shredded papers in his mom’s office.
    “It was nice to see (giving) placed on their hearts, and they really worked hard to bring in the money,” says Sperry, recalling all the kids brought in different amounts. That was “so cool,” she says, explaining “no one felt pressured. Everybody just did their thing.”
    Like Ty Jones, who vacuumed the house. Alexa Specker, who cleaned the bathroom. Josiah Seibel, who unloaded the dishwasher, vacuumed and washed the sink.
    These youngsters and others shared at the delayed Christmas party on Jan. 4 what chores they performed in raising $268.89 as a class. With the matching fund, the grand total was $537.78.
    And what was the reaction to their accomplishments?
    Madelyn Jones: “I was so excited to help people because I know they don’t have much, and (sharing) my money and stuff makes me feel good.”
    Josiah Apking: “I feel terrific about it because I really like to make blessings.”
    Noah Burroughs: “I like to see people’s smiling faces because they got something they never had before. I’d like to see them get a chicken or something (like that).”
    The original Christmas party, which the kids had been anxiously awaiting, was slated Dec. 20. But the event was postponed when the season’s first major snow closed the academy that day and the next. What was interesting about the closing, Sperry says, was that parents on Facebook were posting the closure.
    Page 2 of 2 - Responding to the closure, Sperry posted: “I am really bummed because I was so excited about the Christmas party and what the kids were doing.”
    Soon, a parent from the third grade class responded: “I know. My child cried this morning because there was no school, and was so excited about what they were going to be able to do for other people.”
    But there was no sadness at the rescheduled party, where the class was divided into three rotating groups.
    While Group 1 enjoyed party food, Group 2 created a “brownie in a jar” gift and Group 3 listened as Lisa Apking discussed the 42 gifts available from the Samaritan’s Purse catalog.
    “Is there anything on your heart you would like to give” Apking asks. “A water filter,” is the reply.
    “How much are those,” someone asks, to which Apking replies: “Let’s see. The water filters are a hundred dollars. We have the money to do that.”
    “How about building a school?” a student suggests.
    “We can do that,” she says. “...We are going to share the cost of building a school.”
    “What else?” “A doctor,” someone suggests.
    “You want to help with a doctor,” Apking asks. “I think that is a great idea. Let’s do that, too.”
    In less than an hour, 16 third graders had spent all their money on the following:
    • Household water filters – $100.
    • Transforming the life of a disabled child – $25.
    • Baby chicks – $14.
    • Bikes and vehicles for the mission field – $100.
    • Building a school for impoverished children – $200.
    • Dairy animals – $70.
    • Equipping a missionary doctor – $70.
    Sperry notes the price of a water filter, baby chicks, dairy animals and bikes are the actual purchase price.
    “For the other items,” she says, “the class contributed as part of a ‘Share the Cost’ program to help toward the total amount needed for the specific project.
    Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.
     
     

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