Change for Children: You're Doing a Good Thing

By Annette Bender

Every year since 1998, Holston's mission leaders have asked churches to give to "Change for Children." The promise is that half of the money will go to benefit needy children here at home, and half will be sent to help needy children in Africa.

At Annual Conference in June, a total of $30,000 was distributed in grants to 17 Holston groups, from Rockford United Methodist Church in Wytheville District to Brainerd UMC in Chattanooga District. Among other services, these ministries help kids with homework, drive them to church, give them supper, and provide clean clothes.

An additional $30,000 was sent to "Hope for the Children of Africa," where children in a war-torn land suffer daily from disease and starvation.

Want to know how the money is spent? Here's a trio of ministries in which Change for Children dollars are being used to help needy children here at home.

Knoxville: New clothes & cute slippers
When Joe and Brenda Haymore adopted a baby in 2001, their fellow parishioners at St. Mark United Methodist Church gave them a "baby shower to rival all other showers. The fellowship hall looked like a baby store," says Joe.

One gift in particular made an impression on the couple: A "Moses Basket" filled with infant clothing, shoes, and socks. "The more things we pulled from the basket, the more there seemed to be," says Haymore. "At that time, we were thinking, ?Wouldn't it be great if all children could have a 'Moses Basket?'"

The experience planted a seed for a new ministry at St. Mark that was unveiled this summer, at the same time it received a $2,000 Change for Children grant. The Moses Basket provides new or used good clothing and other necessities for needy children up to size 6X.

The ministry started as Haymore's brainchild but was quickly embraced by the church and community. A local Boy Scout, Kenny Jacobs, transformed two utility rooms into a clothes closet by installing shelves, bins and rods as part of his Eagle Scout project.

Grant and Sharon Fetters visited St. Mark this spring after "The Passion of the Christ" film inspired them to return to church. The couple was so intrigued when they heard about the Moses Basket, they decided to become members and participate in the new ministry. The Fetters are now involved in sewing new baby clothes and repairing donated used clothing.

The parents of the church's child care, where 100 kids are enrolled, donate most of the clothing. Haymore and St. Mark's pastor, the Rev. Mike Sluder, are also building relationships with local shelters, adoption agencies, and emergency squads for referrals.

"If a family gets burned out, the fire department can send them our way," Sluder explains. Organizers plan to use the $2,000 Change for Children grant for gift certificates that will allow families in crisis to buy necessities such as diapers or infant formula.

Brochures were delivered to these agencies in late August and now the church is hoping people will come forward for the Moses Basket experience that first touched Haymore. The offer is also open to Holston congregations that are aware of needy families who could benefit from the ministry: "We are ready for anybody who needs us." For more information, call (865) 588-4047.

Bristol: Backyard games & fresh faces
As soon as the crew from Reynolds Memorial UMC pulls into the parking lot, the children run out of the apartment complex and drive up on their bicyles to greet them.

For two years, Reynolds Memorial has worked to establish relationships with residents of three housing projects near the church. Now, the kids who live in the apartments are in love with their friends and can't wait to see them ? can't wait for the next church activity.

"Whenever they come, I put on my sad face and say, 'Please, Momma, can I go to church?'" says Kendra, age 9, one of the approximately 25 children who are served by the Abingdon District church.

The ministry started in 2003 as a Vacation Bible School project shared by Reynolds Memorial and Seymour UMC of Maryville District. Together, the two churches provided VBS in a field next to the complex.

"It's the perfect spot, with trees," says Reynolds volunteer Sylvia Bowden. "We bring in lunch for them, too."

Since then, some of the kids have started hopping on the church van to attend youth and children's activities at Reynolds. Buffalo Mountain Camp provided 27 scholarships for the kids to attend camp in Jonesborough, Tenn. Reynolds paid for several kids to participate in activities at Camp Ahistadi.

Also this summer, Reynolds youth joined in to begin a weekly Tuesday afternoon ministry at the apartment complex. The agenda: play games, eat snacks, do Bible study, make friends. The $1,000 Change for Children grant received by Reynolds in June goes for food and other expenses for the new ministry.

The youth seem to enjoy Tuesday afternoons as much as the apartment kids do: "They're fun to be around," says Katherine Wauh, age 14.

"The ultimate goal is to reach out to these children and let them and their parents know the door is open at Reynolds," says Matt Cumbow, director of youth and children's ministry. Many of the parents are unemployed or raising several children on low incomes, he said. The church is beginning at 9 a.m. contemporary worship service, hoping the "relaxed atmosphere" will attract the parents.

The parents aren't coming to Reynolds yet, but they don't seem to mind if their children do. "It don't bother me one bit," says Teena, age 28, mother of four children, ages two to seven. "I like having some time to myself."

Trenton: Helping hands for imprisoned parents
Since fall 2002, Trenton UMC in north Georgia has offered GED classes to the community. When the Chattanooga District church began offering GED classes in a nearby prison in April 2004, members discovered a new opportunity for ministry.

On Wednesdays and Sundays, volunteers visit inmates who don't mind being visited and receiving free Bibles. Church members also teach Bible studies. As they get to know the inmates, they learn of their needs and try to help them.

According to Melissa Reasor, Christian and missions director, the $4,000 Change for Children grant received by Trenton this year is being used to supply those needs. Ultimately, the money ends up helping the children of inmates.

"If a parent can't buy school shoes, we use the money to buy them," says Reasor. "We've used it to pay rent. We've even bought Easter baskets. We're trying to help the whole family," she says.

Recently, ministry workers realized that when former inmates leave prison behind, they're often unprepared to re-enter the work force. Reasor set aside a large part of the $4,000 grant to begin a computer lab to assist in job-skill training.

The goal is to have 10 computers to help not only former inmates, but the single mothers and dads who take GED classes at the church. Billy Millican, assistant superintendent of Dade County Schools, has volunteered to teach computer classes in software applications. "We also want to offer training in resume and letter writing," Reasor says.

Trenton could use donations of softsided Bibles for inmates. For more information, contact Reasor at (706) 657-6170.


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The conference treasurer's office will accept money for Change for Children year-round. An offering is also collected each June at Annual Conference.
  • Applications for 2005 Change for Children grants are due April 15, 2005. The grants will be awarded at Annual Conference in June.

  • In 2004, the Change for Children committee reviewed 27 applications from Holston groups requesting more than $107,000. Seventeen groups representing nine districts received grants totaling $30,000. The largest grant was $4,000; the smallest, $1,000.

  • For tips on collecting Change for Children donations or for grant applications, visit www.holstonkids.
    or call Anita Henderlight, coordinator of children's ministries, or Bill Daugherty, coordinator of missions, both at (865) 690-4080.

9915 Kingston Pike, Suite C | Knoxville, TN 37922
PO Box 32939 | Knoxville, TN 37930 | Phone (865) 690-4080 | Fax (865) 690-3162

210 Maple St. | Johnson City, TN 37604
PO Box 2506 | Johnson City, TN 37605 | Phone (423) 928-2156 | Fax (423) 928-880

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