Food for the Soul
6/23/09 at 07:24 PM 0 Comments

Kids Serving Kids

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Give your kids a hands-on mission project and a chance to serve needy children around the world

What do think about when you read headlines about economic hardships, natural disasters, and politically charged conflict? Circumstances like these set families and entire communities reeling, and few people are affected as profoundly as the children involved. How do the littlest victims cope with the changes and uncertainty around them? And what can the church do to reach out specifically to these little ones?

Group Publishing, the premier publishers of children's Bible curriculum including Sunday school and VBS, believes that some of the best ministers to children experiencing disaster and hardship are other children. That's why they have created a program called Operation Kid-to-Kid (OK2K), which partners with nondenominational Christian ministries like International Bible Society and World Vision to provide opportunities for children in North America to share God's love with other children in difficult or disastrous situations. Since its inception ten years ago, Operation Kid-to-Kid projects have impacted millions of kids all over the world.

"Operation Kid-to-Kid is a great way to teach kids compassion and service," says Joani Schultz, cofounder of Group and OK2K. "Children learn by doing. It's one thing to drop a nickel in the offering plate, but when kids make a gift with their own hands, when they can be creative and personal, this leaves a real impression on both the givers and the receivers."

Q: What is Operation Kid-to-KidTM?
A: Operation Kid-to-KidTM is a partnership of Group Publishing, Inc. and nondenominational Christian organizations dedicated to creating hands-on service projects for children in North America. Operation Kid-to-KidTM projects have ministered to kids all over the world. Over the years, Group's Operation Kid-to-KidTM has become one of the largest forces mobilizing children in serving other children around the world. Millions have been impacted with gifts of comfort critters, school supplies, Bibles, hygiene kits, Christmas gifts, Bible coloring books, and socks and shoes. Operation Kid-to-KidTM gives children a meaningful service project that will change their hearts as they help change the world.

Q: What is a Comfort Critter? Where do I get the Comfort Critters?
A: Comfort Critters are adorable, easy-to-assemble crafts designed especially for kids to make and receive. Custom-made Comfort Critters are available from Group and Group suppliers. This year's special critter is a cuddly little turtle that reads "God Cares" and features a pocket so each child can include a special message to another child in need.

Q: We all want to teach our kids about God's compassion. Why are the Operation Kid-to-KidTM Comfort Critters so effective for this purpose?
A: Children learn by doing. While activities like collecting spare change definitely serve a good purpose, it's hard for young children, who don't really understand the value of money yet, to understand how the money they collect will minister to other children. But all children know what it's like to be scared or lonely. They know how a teddy bear, stuffed animal, or blankie makes them feel better. As they use their own hands to make these little turtles, they are creating personal, tangible expressions of compassion. The handy sewn in pocket gives them the opportunity to send a message from their own hearts. And because they make two turtles-one to give away and one to keep-they will have a touchable reminder that other children are struggling and in need of compassion and comfort.

Q: How many Comfort Critters will I need?
A: You will need two for each child participating-one for them to keep, and one to give away.

Q: Can I use a different Comfort Critter for our church service project?
A: Not if you are distributing it through International Bible Society for disaster relief. They're counting on receiving these Comfort Critters with the special message of God's love. IBS has learned it's important that items distributed to children should be identical. No child should feel less special because his or her Comfort Critter doesn't look like the others.

Q: Do I have to send my Comfort Critters to the International Bible Society for distribution?
A: Feel free to tweak your Operation Kid-to-KidTM program. You can use your Comfort Critters as a local community service project-or send the items with your church mission team.

Q: Besides the Comfort Critters, what other Operation Kid-to-KidTM projects can my group participate in?
A: There are so many ways to involve children in ministry throughout the year. Through the Rome VBS program, you can send monthly Bible readers to children in the underground church around the world. Since it is dangerous for these children to own a Bible, these comic book-style readers offer much needed encouragement.

The Operation Kid-to-Kid Prayer Bear missions program warms hearts and minds and allows children to share the joy of God's love. Kids will learn what it means to help others as they create a Prayer Bear that says "Jesus" in English, Spanish, and French. Plus, everyone can personalize a message to put in their Bear's pocket to send to an orphan in Africa. Join us in one of the world's largest forces mobilizing kids in serving others around the world.

This easy, hands-on mission program can serve those in your local community, be sent to military personnel, or simply be sent to the International Bible Society for distribution to children around the world.

For more information about Operation Kid-to-Kid, visit www.ok2k.org.

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