Summer Stretch In the summertime, my church participates in a church program that is called Summer Stretch.
Many churches in Minnesota also participate in this program, and decide what Christian based community service projects that the kids can do during the summer. Each church will then pick a day of the week to get together on that day each week. Our pastor usually picks Wednesdays as the day to get together. Each Wednesday we go to our church in the morning and have a little bible study. After bible study we get into separate cars and go to the community service place that they have selected for that day. I have been in this program for three years now, and have gotten many chances to experience life changing events.
The Marie Sandvik Center is a Christian based non-profit charitable organization.They provide for the poor living in the inner city of Minneapolis. The center is supported by churches and private donations from people nearby. In the Marie Sandvik Center there is a program for kids in the neighborhood near the center. The parents sign them up for the program. The kids get picked up by a bus, and are brought to the center.
At the center they have many activities for the kids to do. There are different aged kids that come so they break them up into separate rooms based on their ages. When I have been there I was in the younger kids room. When the kids get into the room they have coloring sheets and crayons out ready to color. The kids like to meet new people and tell stories while they are coloring. The workers are there to really listen to the kids and interact with them.
When I listened to the kids they have told me some life changing stories that remind me not to be selfish. There are kids there that do not have the best life, but when they come to the center they have big smiles on their faces. The kids get in a line and head down to the kitchen to eat. When they get down there the kitchen workers tell them to hold out there hands and they give them their lunch. The kids head back to their room and they start to eat.
It takes awhile for them to finish eating, but when they are done they throw their plates away. The leader of the classroom will have a bible study for the kids. They teach the kids lessons about God, and they watch videos on the lessons. After bible study they go to a different room to sing songs about God. It is amazing how happy these kids get when they get to sing songs, learn about God, and have lots of fun.
They sing 3-5 songs and pray before they go back to the room. Next they take the kids to the small gym area where they can be active and play games. They can play dodge ball, parachute, basketball and many other things. If some of the kids don’t want to play the game they bring coloring crayons and paper so the kids can color. After the gym they get back on the bus and go home. On Thursdays the center has free donations that they set out on tables and people who need things can come and grab whatever they need.
Vanessa Stinson organizes all the donations, and decides what clothes they can give away. They don’t hand out certain clothes, because they want them to be comforting. When they set this up the day before they don’t fold them or sort them, so it’s easier for people to grab the clothes they need and leave. Vanessa always lets the pregnant ladies go first. She does this because they are expecting soon and they need certain cribs, toys, baby monitors, etc.
After they go she lets the other people in, only a few people at a time. Community service opens up a wonderful door to share the gospel message and God’s love with each person that this program helps.