When Vacation Bible School (VBS) ended last week at Woody Nook CRC in Blackfalds, Alta., the children had raised over $1,600 for programs that help improve access to clean drinking water in places like Haiti and Africa. Blackfalds is located in central Alberta, approximately 140 km (87 miles) southwest of Edmonton.
A record number of 157 children, ages 4 through 11, attended. Half were from Woody Nook CRC. The rest came from neighboring churches and communities, including Lacombe and Bentley, as well as from families camping at nearby Gull Lake. The theme of VBS was “Submerged.” All week, while the children engaged in the many activities and crafts that involved water, the area was doused with fresh rain.
Each year, Woody Nook’s VBS leaders choose a cause supported by World Renew that kids can relate to personally. This year they decided on World Renew’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program. Although clean water is taken for granted in central Alberta, leaders decided that kids could understand the impact of drinking contaminated water as well as the hardship of hauling water from a great distance. They’d also understand that sharing water with cows and pigs is not a good idea!
The ensuing fundraising challenge, called Spare Change, became a competition between the boys and girls. Every morning, the children—who had been asked to bring in their own spare change, not money given by parents and caregivers—emptied their purses, pockets, and Ziploc bags into one of two buckets set up on the stage. The competition went back and forth throughout the week, with the boys up one day and the girls the next. By the end of the week, the boys had raised $818.24 and the girls $818.75. “When the girls won, we all screamed,” exclaimed Brooklyn, age 5.
“The girls won, but only by 51 cents. But that’s okay, ’cause the money all went to poor people who needed water,” said 9-year-old Hayden. An 8-year-old girl concluded, “You know what? It doesn’t matter who wins because it’s just important that there is clean water.”
“It was amazing to see the kids want to give so much, even if it was because they wanted to beat the boys or girls,” said Katie Veldkamp, VBS coordinator for the last six years. “We really wanted the kids to see the importance of clean water and how blessed we are!”