By CANELA WOOD
The Son Harvest County Fair was in full swing this past week at the Hood River Valley Christian Church.
Local youth participated in a week long Vacation Bible School (VBS) hosted by the Hood River Valley Christian Church and supported by many other local churches in the Gorge Ecumenical Ministries (GEM).
There were about 60 kids in the program, ranging from kindergarten to 6th grade. About 25 adults and 18 middle and high school youth from all of the participating churches volunteered in helping with the Son Harvest Fair.
Each church has donated time, money, location, and volunteers to VBS. Families were also asked to make a donation, but no children were turned away from the program.
“We want kids to know that God loves them and that a lot of people in the community care about them,” said Ann Harris, VBS coordinator and director of youth ministries at Riverside Community Church.
This year’s theme was fruits of the spirit and has been carried out in a Harvest Fair setting. The model used is from the Book of Galatians: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Each day was based on one of these principles with children participating in activities aimed at emphasizing that day’s lesson.
Activities began at 9 a.m. and ended at noon. In that time children participated in crafts, music, bible stories, a missions program, snacks and recreation.
“Children also participate in exhibits, learning about some traditional farming techniques, they have made jams, and planted seeds,” Harris said.
“It’s fun and you get to spend time with kids,” said Jacque Mattson, a middle school student of the Riverside Church congregation who volunteered with the 5th grade age group.
“They are such a great bunch of youth. I hardly have to do anything,” said Clel Harr of White Salmon United Methodist Church, who worked as the youth volunteer coordinator for the weeklong program.
Through the VBS program the church has also introduced the children and their families to some of the other things the church will be involved in. During the school year they will begin a program called Logos that will take place each Wednesday afternoon, and will be in four parts: music, recreation, Bible study, and a family style meal.
“I hope we will touch a lot of kids (through the Logos program.) We have a commitment to that and a plan for it to grow,” Harris said.
In addition to the Logos program, the volunteers at the VBS have talked with the kids about the Crop Walk, a walk for hunger relief scheduled for Sept. 28 in Hood River. Twenty-five percent of all funds raised by the Crop Walk will go to food banks in Hood River and Bingen. To help illustrate what the fund raiser is for, the VBS staff has already spoken with the children about gathering donations and will hold a mini crop walk today, the last day of VBS, when the children and their families will come for the family fair.
GEM churches are Valley Christian, Asbury United Methodist, Our Redeemer Lutheran, Riverside United Church of Christ, St. Mark’s Episcopal, St. Mary’s Catholic, Odell and Pine Grove Methodist, in Hood River County, and White Salmon United Methodist and Bethel Congregational in White Salmon and Bingen.