It’s all about kids
Soccer Camp a Success in Denver
By Juan Soto –
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14 (NIV)
The Denver Citadel Corps, Colo., under the leadership of Corps Officers Captains Dave and Regina Shull, recently finished its second soccer camp—God has blessed us very much!
Twenty-two children attended last summer; this year we had 34. Time passed quickly during camp, with daily training leaving everyone tired—even the coaches! We had games each week, playing a nearby Salvation Army corps, and we visited the Colorado Rapids Stadium, home of a professional Denver soccer team. Most importantly, we reached our goal—to get children off the neighborhood streets and away from the drugs, alcohol and delinquency that plague our community.
The idea for a soccer camp was born last year, when interested members of the Denver Citadel Corps met with (then) Corps Officers Captains Rob and Amy Reardon to discuss what kind of program would attract neighborhood children to our church. We tried to think of something that many kids of all ages would enjoy.
That was the day we decided to have a Christian Soccer Camp.
We had everything going for us—most of the Latino children in the neighborhood like soccer, along with other children who also joined the program.
We were not the best soccer team—we lost, tied and won some games—but something special happened. Some of the kids began asking about Jesus and what he had done for us. Every day we shared a devotional time with them, and we started to see the interest the children had in hearing the Word of God. Thanks to the sport, we could tell the kids that there was someone who loved them unconditionally, and—hallelujah—his name does not have to be a secret!
Through our summer soccer camp, kids have joined our other youth programs. We have welcomed six boys to Adventure Corps and seven girls to Sunbeams, and we also sent about 25 children to the Intermountain Division summer camps—music camp, SAY camp, teen camp—this year.
Just as soccer is a passion of many, we can help these children know Jesus so that he can be a passion in their lives and they can spread the good news of God. It depends on us—on those who know Jesus as personal savior, to say to every person who is lost, as our Founder said, “…while little children cry, I’ll fight!”
Ventura VBS succeeds with TEAM work
By Lourdes Griffith, Captain –
The Salvation Army Ventura Corps, Calif., held its annual vacation Bible school in July; 19 children registered for the program, which was based on the Olympic games.
During VBS, children learned the importance of working as a TEAM, with Jesus as their leader; they also memorized Scriptures, did crafts, learned new songs and had tons of fun.
At the conclusion of the week, during our Sunday morning worship service, the children presented two special songs, received their certificate of attendance and some prizes. The grand prizes—two brand new bicycles—were donated by K-mart and Ray’s Bike Shop, demonstrating that as a community Together Everyone Accomplishes More (TEAM).
We are looking forward to a year of building youth programs; we trust that soon our building will be way too small for all that God is preparing to do for his glory in the city of Ventura.
Supper Club satisfies kids, parents in Escondido
By Derek Strickland, Captain –
The Escondido Corps, Calif., was selected to be a pilot corps for the HopeShare Program’s Project Handle With Care. The goal of the program is to bring the gospel to at-risk children, and was developed under the leadership of (then) Commissioner Joe Noland in the Eastern Territory, where it has had great success.
After retiring and relocating back to his home territory here in the West, Noland has been excited to implement HopeShare in the Western Territory, starting with the Escondido Corps.
The Escondido Corps established a committee to determine the HopeShare model best suited for our corps. The committee chose the Supper Club Model, which is the SonDay’s Cool curriculum set around a family-style dinner. We started the program on Tuesday, June 22, with 62 people in attendance. Over the course of 10 weeks the average attendance was 61 people, which is more than double our regular SAY programming.
In a typical SonDay’s Cool program, we start with an attention grabber, which is a fun activity to get the kids thinking about the topic of the day. One such activity was a mismatched arm wrestling competition on the day of the “Life isn’t fair” topic.
Following the attention grabber, dinner is served family style with corps volunteers sitting at each table. This is a great time for building relationships and getting to know the kids. After dinner is the Bible story. These stories are fun and engaging, and always include audience participation. Following the Bible story is the application time. During the application time, different types of activities from crafts to games, coupled with some discussion questions all help the kids to understand how the topic applies to their life. We close each Supper Club with a big prayer circle asking God to help the children put what they learned into practice.
Finally, as everyone leaves, they are all met by one of our designated “huggers” on their way out the door.
Aida, age 5, said, “I like getting to make new friends.” Efrain, age 11 shared that “The Bible stories are fun and we learn new verses every week.” Ryan Birks, corps program assistant and leader of some of the activities said, “It was good to see the excitement in the children as they actively learned about God each week.” It was not uncommon to hear the children sharing how much they loved the food. Captain Derek Strickland, corps officer, noted that “some of the children eat so much food, you wonder how difficult their home situations are. The kids get used to sitting with the same adults at their tables and want to sit with the same ‘family’ each week. Many children I’ve sat with at the tables have mentioned the Supper Club meal is the largest meal they have all week. Some of the children will ask the kitchen volunteers for leftovers to take home to their families.”
Josh Boyd, youth pastor, shares that “The program is initially geared to children ages 6-12. It is nice to see that entire families from newborns to grandparents, come to be involved in the program as they watch their children learn and share a meal together at the table.” Annette, one of the parents with two children in the program, said, “I feel loved here. You have opened your arms and your heart to my family. It is so nice to feel appreciated.” Liz, age 14, says of the program, “It was fun getting to know people from my community.” Dan, a volunteer, said, “Supper Club made me aware of the need for fellowship within the community.”
The final Supper Club of the summer was held on Wednesday, August 25. Starting in September, the Escondido Corps is going to start our new Family Nights. Family Nights will be a combination of SAY programs, a family meal with a condensed Supper Club lesson, followed by creative ministries classes, and programming for adults such as a Bible study or a parenting workshop.
Captain Angela Strickland, corps officer, said, “Supper Club was a great program that kept the corps programming in the children’s minds during the summer. Our hope is to gain momentum in all of our youth programming from the time spent with children and families around the tables and in the chapel.”
Completely for Jesus
By Cheri Currie –
Wow! I had an amazing summer! I was a member of the Service Corps Team that went to the Marshall Islands.
My goal for the summer was to live completely for Jesus, surrendering all of myself to his love. I jumped into the arms of God as I left my country, my friends, and my family for the first time.
Our team got really attached to the Marshallese people. After doing four weeks of VBS (vacation Bible school) and participating in camps and youth councils, it was very hard to leave. The hardest part is that I don’t know if I will ever see those people again. God had used us in their lives, but I think even more so, he was working in our lives through them.
Through the whole summer, there was never a moment that I didn’t feel God’s constant presence, as well as his calling on my life. He has called me to become an officer in The Salvation Army. He was preparing me for a lifetime of this ministry.
God has changed me. My Bible verse for the summer was “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.
I am now working at my corps. I am going to fill out my preliminary application for officership this week. I would like to go into the 2005 session of cadets at The Salvation Army School For Officer Training. I will live completely for Jesus.
Kids get back-to-school haircuts, thanks to caring hairstylists
By Misty Millhorn –
Nine Casa Grande, Ariz., hairstylists spent part of their day at The Salvation Army, cutting the hair of 66 children for the upcoming school year. For many, it was their first time receiving a professional haircut.
Among the local hairstylists were a district manager from the JC Penney Salons and a manager from another local salon. The salon staff worked beyond the hours they committed to, to ensure that haircuts were provided to every child who was “in-need.”
Casa Grande corps officers Captains Jason and Angelina Koenig said they interacted with parents and conducted tours to inform them of the social service programs that were available at The Salvation Army.
Captain Jason said that he started the haircut program after one year of assessing the need in the community. At their previous appointment in Washington State, the officers started a back-to-school haircut program because many families had experienced the burden of not having enough money to provide haircuts for their children. When they realized that there was a similar need for assistance in the Casa Grande community, they started contacting local salons to participate in this month’s event.
As a result of the event, children are not only ready for the school year, but nine of the participants signed up for the Adventure Corps/Girl Guards/Sunbeams, five teens joined a Salvation Army youth program, and each of the stylists committed to participating in the “Back to School Haircuts” program, which will be held on an annual basis. The hairstylists rendered services totaled an in-kind donation of $1,320 (the cost of each haircut at a salon is $20).
CHILDSPREE sends kids to school with new clothes
By Brian Pickering –
Although the calendar only read “August,” it seemed more like Christmas recently for 41 local disadvantaged children who participated in a Back-to-School CHILDSPREE at Mervyn’s California in Victorville, prior to the doors opening for the general public.
In fact, one of the parents told Captain Cathy Whipple of the Victor Valley Corps—who helped co-sponsor this annual event—that her 10-year-old daughter “couldn’t sleep the night before because she was so excited.”
For the sixth year, the Victor Valley Corps and Mervyn’s California in Victorville joined hands in Mervyn’s nationwide CHILDSPREE to help send young children from the Victor Valley back to school in new clothes and shoes. The young participants came from Victorville, Hesperia, Apple Valley, Lucerne Valley, Adelanto and Phelan.
The Salvation Army and Mervyn’s both matched $50, giving each child $100 worth of items. An additional 10% discount was given, allowing the dollars to stretch further. To help complete the school theme, the Kiwanis Club of Victorville donated backpacks and school supplies, while Target in Victorville also donated some additional school supplies, for each participant.
Twenty-one volunteer chaperones from the Kiwanis Club of Victorville, the Victor Valley Corps’ Women’s Home League and Mervyn’s California helped the children choose their clothing attire based on a list of needed (and wanted) items filled out by their parents.
This included an enjoyable search for shirts, pants, socks, undergarments, shoes, etc., that were reasonable in price, yet fit the style for each child.
The CHILDSPREE is one of Whipple’s favorite events of the year.
“Children tend to put others down when they come to school in old clothes. Knowing that these children will begin school in new clothes, I believe, starts the year on a positive note for them,” she said.
However, Whipple wasn’t the only one touched by the spree. The chaperones, who sacrificed a Saturday morning to rise early for this event, also left with smiles on their faces.
“A couple chaperones who were volunteering for the first time told me that the CHILDSPREE was an exciting event for them—especially when they saw the joy on the children’s faces. That made it all worth it!” said Whipple.
Following the shopping spree, each child also received a breakfast compliments of Jack in the Box near the Victor Valley Mall.
“On behalf of The Salvation Army, I would like to thank those who helped us send these children to this CHILDSPREE. Not only did their generous funds once again help each child receive nice back-to-school clothes but, simultaneously, it also helped boost their self-esteem, which should help them mentally in school,” Whipple said.
When asked about the future of this annual event, Whipple said she hopes a local barbershop can join forces and provide haircuts for the children—helping to complete the back-to-school cycle.