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In "Moral Tales," a Tapestry of Faith program
This Faith in Action activity introduces the idea of extending welcome to others as children make welcome signs for a food pantry, visit or volunteer at a food pantry, and/or hold a congregation-wide food drive. In addition to welcome, the spiritual practices of generosity, gratitude and humility are all activated in this activity as participants confront the local realities of poverty and hunger.
Children in second and third grade are often very compassionate and concerned when they encounter injustice. Participation in a concrete service project provides them with an outlet for their concern and empowers them as agents of justice. Moreover, they will experience what it means to translate into action our Unitarian Universalist principles, which promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person as well as justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
Update the group regarding your plans for the food drive and/or visit to a food pantry. You may say:
We learned today about seeing other people with awe and recognizing their inherent worth and dignity. In the story the children in the class treated each other differently because they believed one of them was the messiah. Perhaps one of the people that we will give food to is a messiah.
If you will be doing a food drive, tell the children which foods are especially needed, so they can tell their parents.
Invite the children to finish their "Welcome" posters or make some now, if you have not yet made any. As they work, talk about the importance of making the guests at the food pantry or soup kitchen feel welcome.
You may like to teach Hymn 407 in Singing the Living Tradition, "We're Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table, and plan for the children to sing it for the congregation to welcome a visitor from the food pantry or to promote the food drive. If you have chosen to do this, sing it one or two times through as practice.
Make sure plans for a food drive are coordinated with your minister to involve the entire congregation. Consider collecting food every Sunday for a month in a special offering during the worship service.
If you have set up a visit from a food pantry staff member or trained volunteer, be sure this person understands their audience will include young children.
If you are bringing children to the food pantry, make sure all who will accompany the group can join a post-visit discussion of the experience. Let parents and the wider congregation know when and where that discussion will take place. Ideally, you can convene at your congregation immediately after the visit.
At the food pantry, deliver the food collected by the congregation and present the "Welcome" signs before beginning a tour or volunteer work.
After your visit to the food pantry, gather the volunteers to discuss their experience. This opportunity to share experiences and ask questions will be especially important for the children as they seek to make meaning of the activity. You may wish to ask your minister and/or director of religious education to facilitate a discussion, or lead it yourself, using these questions.
During the discussion, encourage participants of all ages to share their thoughts and questions in simple language, to be inclusive of the youngest in the group.
It is important to remember as you plan and lead this activity that some families in your congregation, and some children in the group, might be homeless or living below the poverty line. Be careful to use language that includes this possibility and that does not assume all of the children come from financially wealthy homes. You can help normalize the experience by saying something like, "Some families in our congregation sometimes go to the food pantry and lots of families need the help of food pantries at some time or other." However, be respectful of the right to personal privacy and do not identify particular individuals without permission.
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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