Use Joyce Lundberg’s tips to begin your ministry’s Special of the
• Set a budget and stick to it to eliminate financial
• Involve enough volunteers to keep stress in check. Ideally,
you’ll need one volunteer per every five children.
• Have fun! Relax and don’t worry about having the perfect “party”
– keep your focus on serving your guests.
Kids LOVE these Sunday School resources!
What it is: Matt Whitson, children’s
pastor at Community Bible Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas, leads a
project his church started seven years ago. The Love Network
ministry began by partnering with the Angel Tree Prison Ministry (www.angeltree.org). The program is for
children whose parents are in prison.
How it works: At the Angel Tree Party,
kids and their families eat a delicious Thanksgiving meal with a
host family at the church. Then host families share gifts,
laughter, and more with their guests.
“Kids also receive gifts from their parent in prison, along with a
note of love from that parent,” says Whitson.
To finish the evening, the kids from the children’s ministry act
out the Christmas story for their visiting audience. The event
serves about 500 people including kids, families, and hosts.
“Our kids give back by helping their parents buy or pick out gifts,
making friends, hanging out with the children at dinner, and acting
out the birth of Christ so that others may know the truth,” says
“This program isn’t just giving a child a gift,” says Shannon
Pigeon, a member of Community Bible Church. “This program allows
our church to reach out and touch not only the children, but also
the caregivers and inmates. In addition, it allows our church
community to show love, grace, and care to families they might not
otherwise come into contact with, and expands our
sometimes-narrow view of reality. This allows us all to see life
from another’s perspective and realize that these people and these
families are no less important in God’s eyes than ours.”
Prisoners and their families need sponsors all over the country.
Ministries can get involved by contacting Prison Fellowship
Ministry’s Angel Tree program (www.prisonfellowship.org). Prisoners go through
an application process to become involved, and no one is turned
Use Matt Whitson’s tips to organize a successful Angel Tree
• Prepare all details — from the food to the gifts — well in
• Strategically choose families to buy gifts and to host
• Prepare your children to be good hosts before the party by
talking about their guests’
Mission in a “Little Town”
What it is: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
in Polson, Montana, reaches across international borders for its
kid-led service project to its sister congregation-the Evangelical
Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Israel.
How it works: Children from third through
sixth grade drew pictures of peaceful scenes such as mountains,
rainbows, and hearts on large squares of white fabric, then
transferred each child’s photo to fabric and sewed it to his or her
drawing to show the children who’d made the quilt. To finish the
quilts, volunteers sewed the scenes to orange and yellow borders
“The center squares carried an embroidered message of hope and
love,” says Julie Young.
A few of the kids traveled to Bethlehem to present the quilts.
Pastor Paul Rowold says that although communication with the
children of Bethlehem was often difficult, the project gave
everyone lifetime lessons and memories.
“In a ‘little town’ that’s been cut off from the rest of the world
by a 24-foot wall, today’s child of Bethlehem has only its
Christian school and the tangible evidence of these quilts to
remind them that others in the world care about them,” says
Use these tips to make a long-distance service project work.
• Look for projects that let kids have tangible roles.
• Let kids help choose the project.
• Make personal connections with the recipients.
• Provide opportunities for kids to learn about the world region of
Lesleigh Keetch is a freelance writer in Durango,