Program encourages kids to GEEK out, give back
A while back a volunteer at Community of Hope Church suggested that the church start a program in which kids volunteer in the community. That idea got the wheels turning in children's ministry director Jeri Austad's head. The result is a new program called GEEK.
GEEK stands for Generous, Excellent, Example of a Kid. The program aims to get kids active in their home town. The program started just a few weeks ago and it already has 10 participants, Austad said.
"We want to teach kids that church doesn't just revolve around these four walls," said Austad. "They can go out and do something to glorify Jesus."
Kids who sign up with GEEK are asked to volunteer five times before June. If they do, they will receive a t-shirt. The kids also are asked to take a picture of themselves volunteering. Those pictures are posted on the kid's bulletin board at Community of Hope.
The program is open to kids in first through fifth grades. Kids can volunteer however they want. It can be as simple as helping an elderly neighbor shovel snow from their drive, or it can be as grand as preparing a Thanksgiving feast for the homeless, said Austad.
The kids who have already gotten involved have done both those things. A group from the church drove up to Minneapolis Thanksgiving Day and helped prepare a free meal for anyone who wanted to drop by.
Volunteer Scott Engelmann said they put a number of GEEK participants to work. He said some kids helped cook and serve food, while others played with kids who came in to eat.
"It showed them a different way of living," said Engelmann. "We put them to work and they did a great job."
Engelmann said the kids who volunteered seemed excited to do it and were proud of the part they played in helping others.
Engelmann believes the GEEK program is a good incentive to get kids out of their shells. He said the program works to get families out doing good deeds together, too.
Community of Hope has more than 120 kids involved with the children's ministry. Austad said they have presented the program to all of them and are hoping to get about half to participate.
"Our church is always trying to push beyond our walls and this is a way to do that," said Austad. "We don't always think of kids as being able to do much but (kids) can do so much."
To learn more about the GEEK program check out www.cohlc.org/kids.html.