PARIS — Sunday School children at First Congregational Church of South Paris take “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself” seriously. In addition to their normal Sunday School activities this year, children, age 3-17, took on two special mission projects, “The Heifer Project” and “Reach Out and Touch Someone”

The children, in consultation with their Sunday School teachers, became interested in the work of Heifer International. Learning that livestock offers meat, money, manure, muscle, milk and motivation for impoverished families, the children raised money to buy a goat for a family in need.

The children, under the direction of Sunday School Superintendent Judy Stone, set a goal of $120. The children surpassed their goal, raising $510. Once the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters were tallied, children bought not only a goat, but a sheep, chickens and a water buffalo.

Following that success, the children and their teachers turned their efforts to helping neighbors in Oxford County. Based on conversations with the Rev. Don Mayberry, the children learned that many people need food, fuel oil, gas, medical expenses and basics.

The project, “Reach Out and Touch Someone” materialized. The church congregation responded and hundreds of items were collected. Mayberry reports that many people in need have received toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, paper towels, soap and diapers, carrying them home in bags decorated by the children.

Stone said, “Watching children grow from nursery through high school gives me special joy. In addition to working with the volunteer teaching staff to introduce children to the stories in the Old and New Testament, I feel it is important that the children know that church is a good place to be … it is safe, loving and fun. Church is a place to learn values, but not have them imposed. It is critical that the children experience a caring environment and appreciate that their behavior encompasses positive actions. It is important that children understand their place in the larger community and that they have the ability to help when and where needed. This year, the children really wanted to serve others, both close to home and across the world.”

 Mayberry said, “It’s not surprising that the Sunday School students and teachers took on these “helping neighbors” projects. They’ve been gently guided by Judy Stone, a remarkable woman whose strong faith and love of people has been a priority all of her life. Judy Stone’s work career in nursing and countless years of service to the church and the greater community has been a steady loving example of leadership and service.”

First Congregational Church of South Paris offers Sunday School September through May. From June through August, children may participate in “Create and Play in a Wholesome Way” on Sunday mornings. Children are always welcome in the sanctuary and are encouraged to attend church with their families, spending time with Mayberry during the early part of the service.

Children then are escorted to the Haskell House for Sunday School or Create and Play, depending on the time of the year.

For more information about church offerings for children, contact Mayberry or Stone at 743-2437 or Cynthia Riley, Youth and Family Pastor, at 336-2567. Youth and family offerings are also posted on First Congregational Church of South Paris Youth Group Facebook page.

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