CHANGE FOR CHILDREN: Community UMC serves more than 60 on 'Terrific Tuesdays'

CHANGE FOR CHILDREN: Community UMC serves more than 60 on 'Terrific Tuesdays'

What started as a miniature golf game with six children, the pastor, and two parents blossomed into a weekly outreach involving more than 60 children, at least four churches, food, and a whole lot of fun.

That’s “Terrific Tuesdays,” a children’s outreach of Community United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Tenn. Tina Shelton, one of the organizers, said the event blossomed from word of mouth. Eventually, 20 kids showed up. It didn’t take long for Rev. Charles Kilbourne, 72, and Shelton to realize they needed to do something different.

“We wanted to add structure for it, so we started out using one Sunday school room,” Shelton said. “We did a Bible lesson, a craft or game, music and the biggie, a snack, when we first started. Later, we added a meal.”

A meal was added because the children came to the church at dinnertime. Since many of the children are from low-income families, the meal served by Community UMC may be the only one of the evening, Shelton said.

As the weekly event grew, Shelton needed more help. At 49, she said she’s the youngest member of her church. Two years ago, First Broad Street UMC began allowing Community to use their van to transport children. Colonial Heights UMC, Vermont UMC, First Baptist church, plus area businesses, donate time, money, food or volunteers on a rotating basis.

“It is like God is one step ahead of us,” Shelton said. “We put the word out that we need something, and that person comes along (and fills it). This program has made my faith a lot stronger.”

A “glove tree” in winter, holiday food baskets, and occasional coats or pairs of shoes help the children meet their physical needs. Of course, hugs are dispensed freely.

When Terrific Tuesdays resumed its fall season on Aug. 16, the children came back to a new building addition that was built by volunteers with money from an anonymous donor.

Terrific Tuesdays received a $2,000 Change for Children grant. Shelton said she isn't sure how the money will be used.

“We need teaching materials, and crafts are a big thing,” Shelton said. “We also need new music and Bible materials.”

Learn more about Holston Conference's Change for Children grants.