Small Deeds (hands on project)
How does a small church connect with a mission project and feel that they re really making a difference? We found one!!
Stony Point Presbyterian Church first participated in the "Gift of the Heart" program in 1998. Elder Nancy Niero introduced Pamela Burdine during one of our morning worship services. Pamela was at nearby Stony Point Center for a conference. She told us about the disaster relief kits and something she said struck a chord in our congregation. We're a small church at under 100 members and we were looking for a manageable mission project. Susan Lawless, chairperson of the Mission Committee, sent away for information on the program and we gave it a try. The first year we assembled Health kits, Clean up Kits and School kits for a total of 28 kits (64 pounds worth).
In 1999, hoping to top our previous year's total, we tried streamlining our project. We decided to assemble just two types of kits and chose the Health and School kits since they were the ones most needed. Inserts in the church bulletin listed the materials we would need for each kit. We put up lists of materials and decorated boxes in a prominent location to remind everyone. Several of our members became regular visitors to local "dollar stores" to find bargains on toothbrushes, soap, or crayons. As we compared notes on our purchases and counted items we had and what we still needed, the kits served to bring people together in new and unexpected ways. One of our members proved to be a wonder at the sewing machine and made many cloth bags for the School kits out of scraps of material. We received $75 in donations to help supply the kits and defray the postage. We also decided to have a potluck luncheon to encourage more participation. We held the luncheon and the kit preparation around Valentine s Day and incorporated the heart motif into our preparations. The fellowship we shared at the luncheon was wonderful. The children found an outlet for their energy at the assembly line we created to put the kits together. When we were all done, we had created 84 kits---three times as many as the previous year!
In 2000, we again made the Health and School kits and assembled them at a fellowship luncheon. Now we were true professionals at finding the best places for the materials. One member had a relative who was a dentist and who could get toothpaste for us. We got some interesting looks as we purchased all of the nail files at the local grocery store because they had the best price we could find. Elder Kathy Meyer organized all the supplies and gave us running totals of everything collected so far. Members started checking the current totals at coffee hour and promised to look for items we still needed. Somehow we wound up with the right numbers of everything--or sent someone to the store at the last minute to fill in the gaps. Messages in the monthly newsletter let the congregation know about the different places that the kits were sent and this helped to make it all more personal for us. We assembled 125 Health and School kits in 2000--another increase!! When we read about the many places the kits are sent to and the different people who benefit from them, we realize that we are truly blessed.