Offering Hope to Haiti
How several Awana churches took action to serve Haitians affected by January's devastating earthquake

The devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12 left hundreds of thousands of people dead and thousands of families without homes, food or water. Many Americans wonder how they can make a difference and serve the people of Haiti. The needs are overwhelming.

Several Awana-registered churches decided to meet some of the needs in tangible ways. Kids from Puggles (club for ages 2 to 3) through Journey (high school) participated in various activities.Orchard Hills Baptist Church's Awana clubs collected 730 pairs of shoes for kids in Haiti

Here’s how groups of kids and youth in Awana programs nationwide have gathered together and brought glimmers of hope to families in Haiti:

Orchard Hills Baptist Church, Newnan, Georgia
A group at Orchard Hills Baptist Church responded to the Haitian earthquake by collecting shoes for kids and adults. Children in the Awana program led the donation effort.

During a Sunday service, kids from Puggles, Cubbies (preschool), Sparks (K-2) and T&T (third to sixth grade) walked barefoot down the church aisle and placed their shoes in a box on the altar. They prayed over the shoes, asking God to bless the boys and girls in Haiti who would receive the shoes.

But it didn’t stop there. The adults in the congregation—and even the pastor—were challenged to come to church barefoot the following week with shoes to donate in hand. The church’s school also got involved. By the end of two weeks, 730 pairs of shoes were collected.

"God blessed us with lots of shoes," said Theresa Lowry, who oversees the Awana program at Orchard Hills. “Our Awana kids sorted the shoes at church and also had a chance to further sort them at the Soles4Souls headquarters (the organization to whom the shoes were donated) near our church.

“The kids loved it, and they could understand the practical need for kids to have shoes. They learned so much about how God wants us to give to others in need.”

The project was so well received that it will now be an annual tradition at this three-year-old church.

"This is a very simple mission project," Lowry said. "All anyone has to do is clean out those closets."

Southwest Hills Baptist Church, Beaverton, Oregon
Becky Loughridge serves as Awana co-commander and Sparks director at Southwest Hills Baptist Church in Beaverton, Oregon. After the earthquake, she read an update on Haiti Awana missionaries Gersan and Betty Valcin on the Awana Facebook page. She learned about the Awana clubs in Haiti and knew something could be done to help.

Her church’s Sparks and T&T clubs collected nickels, dimes, pennies and quarters on a weekly basis from February through the end of March. Leaders placed jars around the church that showed kids a map of Haiti and asked them to bring their spare change each week. The leaders collected $380 to send to the Valcins.

“The Sparks club went all out with cards and notes of encouragement,” Becky said. “We took pictures of the clubbers to send along with the check. Awana headquarters sent us a clip of the Awana clubs in Haiti so our kids could learn more about who they were supporting.

“This was a great opportunity for us to teach our kids that the clubs in Haiti are just like ours—they play the same games and learn Bible verses. Kids are kids everywhere. We are to share one another’s burdens and help each other.”

One fifth-grade T&T boy made a courageous and generous decision. He walked into club one night with his entire savings account of $100 and donated it.

“He has such a heart for the Lord, and his parents supported his decision,” Becky explained. “This was a neat time of outreach for our clubs and a chance to help the Valcins as they minister to kids in Haiti.”

View the video on Awana in Haiti here.

Faith Bible Fellowship, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Barry Kauffman has led the Awana program at Faith Bible Fellowship in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for 28 years. One of the highlights of his Awana experience is teaching kids about missions and international ministry.

This year, the boys and girls in his club supported 14 Awana clubs around the world through Awana International’s Adopt-a-Club program. Countries like South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico and the Philippines received financial support for their Awana clubs from the fundraising efforts of boys and girls in Pennsylvania.

They recently collected $5,100 and decided to give $2,100 to help five Awana clubs in Haiti.

First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Alabama
Haiti is so far away. For many people, it’s difficult to know how to help in a practical way. The Awana kids at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Alabama thought of a plan to meet the very real needs of families in Haiti.

Called Buckets of Hope, the Awana boys and girls were instructed to bring a new five-gallon bucket with a lid along with the following food items: two five-pound bags of rice; one jar of peanut butter; two boxes of spaghetti; one bag of flour; vegetable oil; a five-pound bag of sugar and two bags of black beans.

The food items fit perfectly inside the bucket. Over 1,000 buckets were recently collected.

“Our Awana kids are always excited to help,” said Jenifer Parris, who oversees the Awana ministry at First Baptist. “We gave them Awana red bracelets to wear the week before collection to help them remember to bring the items.”

Shelter Cove Community Church, Modesto, California
The Awana program at Shelter Cove Community Church places what they call a “quarter jar” by the registration table each week. It’s a large two-gallon jar with a small ceramic cup glued to the bottom of the jar. The jar is filled with water. Each week, kids try to get their quarters into the cup at the bottom of the jar.

“On a regular basis, we use the monies collected in the quarter jar to support one of our local Awana missionaries,” said Grayce Chapman, who oversees the Awana ministry with her husband, Marvin. “After the disaster in Haiti, we decided to take the offerings for four weeks and donate them to disaster relief in Haiti. We collected $150.

“If the clubbers get their quarters in the cup, they get five Awana bucks. If they don’t get it into the cup, they get a piece of candy as a consolation prize for bringing the offering. We consistently collect $25 to $30 per week and average about 160 kids each week.”

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