First Christian Church of Wood River held their annual Vacation Bible School and made something special for kids in the community. The children that attended the VBS made a craft that they didn’t take home, instead, they made them for other children. They made more than 80 G.U.T.S.Y. Bears (God’s Unique, Talented, Special You).
“I was looking for a craft for the children to do that had some meaning behind it, and these bears were the perfect project,” said Michelle Decker, First Christian Church of Wood River. “We’re aware that there are many children in our community who do not have much, and these bears are something they can call their own.”
Decker thought of Riverbend Family Ministries as the perfect partner to find homes for each of the bears since they have such a broad outreach with families in the community.
“I was so touched that they thought of our families, especially our littles,” said Riverbend Family Ministries Executive Director, Tammy Iskarous. “Helping families in our community is what we’re all about, especially helping our kiddos, which is something our Refuge program focuses on.
Refuge is one of the nonprofit programs that RFM supports and houses at 131 E. Ferguson Ave. in downtown Wood River. Refuge is a trauma-informed holistic program for hurting kids and their families in Madison County. Their mission is to create safe surroundings and restoration for families in need.
“Sometimes, children are immediately put into foster homes, which can be hard for them, and most of the time they don’t have their comfort blankets, or stuffed animals,” said Iskarous. “These bears will be special to each child because they can call them their own no matter where they’re living.”
“Each child and member of the church prayed over the bears that God will send them to the kiddos who really need them,” said Decker. “There are kids out there that don’t know what love is, these bears represent Jesus’s love. This was not just about doing a kid’s craft, but about kids helping kids.”
The children also colored backpacks that they plan on having RFM distribute to their families in need. The First Christian Church of Wood River is located at 160 E. Lorena Avenue.