Giving Back to the Community for Advent

Katy Allen, Director of Children’s Ministries at First Presbyterian in Arlington Heights shared with us how the children of that congregation used the season of Advent to give back to their community.
December 16 was designated as the Advent Day of Giving. Each Sunday school class was given a donation theme and asked to bring in donations around that theme. Preschoolers were asked to bring in donations for a local pet shelters, The Buddy Foundation. First, Arlington Heights supported them in the past, and as a local shelter in Arlington Heights, they are always happy to receive donations from the kids.
The Kindergarten/First Grade class was asked to bring in donations of breakfast items (dry cereal, oatmeal, breakfast bars, syrup, pancake mix, biscuit mix). Second/Third Grade had lunch items. This broad category included anything that someone might enjoy for lunch. Fourth/Fifth graders had dinner items. Again, this category allowed for a lot of flexibility in donations because dinner encompasses so many different types of foods. All food donations were given to the Wheeling Township Food Pantry, which services residents in all or parts of Wheeling, Prospect Heights, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, and Mount Prospect.
On the morning of December 16, kids came in with bags and boxes full of food. They were displayed them on the table in our gathering space, and time was taken to acknowledge the generosity of the children and families. The importance of sharing what we have with others was also discussed.
For the past three years, the First, Arlington Heights Sunday School program has focused very heavily on Jesus’ teachings of caring for all, and the kids have really absorbed this message in their hearts and hands. Many of the Children’s Ministries lessons center around giving back, helping others, and learning what it means to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world.