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A recent Vacation Bible School project had children cheering for chicks.

The little, feathery kind.

And beside feathery fowl, there was more to cheer about after 47 students did their part to raise $450 for God’s Global Barnyard — a project undertaken during a community VBS.

The VBS is a joint project of St. Paul’s and Elim Lutheran churches of rural Hooper.

Each year since 2006, offering money collected at the VBS has gone to support various mission projects, said the Rev. Judy Johnson, pastor of both congregations.

“The children have fun selecting the offering designation each year,” Johnson said.

God’s Global Barnyard, provided through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has been chosen at least five or six of these years.

Through this program, a variety of animals and birds can be purchased at various prices.

These animals then go to countries where many people don’t have enough to eat.

The animals are sent with two things in mind: to provide food and also a sustainable, ongoing way to help families and communities earn a living by selling items such as eggs from chickens and milk and cheese from cows and goats.

VBS students get to choose which animals will be bought by the funds raised.

Animals chosen by the children this year were:

A community fish farm

  • , which cost $250. This farm will provide enough fish to feed an average community in a developing country.

A young goat for $50

  • . This will be given to a family to provide milk and cheese. Eventually, the plan is to have a herd of goats.

A young pig for $30

  • . Pigs can multiply in a relatively short amount of time.

A honeybee hive for $20

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  • . Not only will the honeybees provide pollination opportunities, they produce honey for the families.

A hundred chicks for $100.

  • “This has always been one of the favorite items for the children to order, and such was the case this year,” Johnson said. “After the other items were selected, the children voted to spend the rest of the money to buy as many chicks as we could — so we did!

“I think the biggest cheer came about when they decided to buy 100 chicks!” Johnson said.

At the start of VBS, children took home a letter telling their parents about the project and how the youngsters hoped to raise enough funds to purchase a number of animals.

To buy the animals, fish and birds, the children brought funds for a daily VBS offering.

The children raised $225.26 in the daily offering. That was matched by an anonymous donor for a total of $450.

Johnson believes children benefit from the project.

“Our offering project is a great way for children to be aware of the needs of others and to be generous in sharing with them the blessings we have in our lives,” Johnson said. “It is always fun to have children who aren’t members of our congregations come up and talk to me when I see them throughout the year. I know that means they had a positive experience.”

Children seem to enjoy the fundraising project.

“They like it, I think, because they can help decide where the offering is going and what it will be used for,” Johnson said. “Children also have empathy for others who may not be as fortunate as we are, and they are happy with the amount of money they can raise.”

Several teachers and helpers were part of the VBS, which featured five learning stations — Bible story, craft, music, games and snacks.

“We were happy to have 14 junior- and senior-high school students and eight adults,” Johnson said. “Some taught and led sessions, while others assisted them with group activities and accompanied the little ones from class to class.”

Johnson has been the VBS leader since she came to the churches 13 years ago.

“It is one of my favorite projects,” she said.

The churches plan to continue having VBS each year.

“It’s a great outreach program for the community, one which all children age 3 through sixth grade are welcome,” Johnson said. “It is always gratifying to have children come year after year from our parishes as well as others children in the area. I also appreciate all of the volunteer adults and junior-senior high school students who help every year. We couldn’t do it without them.

“This year’s vacation Bible school went very well and we look forward to next year’s.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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