So, every story has a beginning.  And this one began here, just over six years ago, with these sweet kids.

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Basically, when Christian was in Preschool, there was a need for someone to direct the Pioneer Clubs program at our church.  Pioneer Clubs was our church’s group for children in Pre-K through 2nd Grade.  Since I loved working with children and since our son was able to be a part of the program, I volunteered.

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I spent that first year, working with these awesome kids and really enjoyed meeting up with them each week.

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We has a great group and it was so fun to love these kids and teach them about Jesus.

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Over the years, our program would grow.  We eventually changed from doing the Pioneer Clubs program and simplified into what was known for a few years as Kids Club.  We did the same things and continued to love and teach the children who came about Jesus and his great love for them.

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In our last year of Kids Club, we hit a bump in the road.  Last spring, Eastport Elementary split into two schools, with two new bus schedules that got the kids home fifteen minutes later and made it so many of our children were unable to attend due to getting home later without enough time to get back for our program.  I was discouraged and wasn’t sure what the future would hold for Kids Club.

After ending the program last March, Jeremy and I spent some time talking.  We had heard about an after school program that one of the Grace churches was doing in Michigan.  And it got us thinking.  Since our church is conveniently located next to two elementary schools, why not try an after school program for Kindergarden through Sixth Grade and see what would happen?

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We called it Hangtime.  And we started last October, with an opening group of 32 kids and 11 leaders.

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This program was put into place to serve our community and it’s children.  But in doing that, we opened up new opportunities for people in our church to serve.

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Over the past seven months, we’ve met up every Wednesday to offer homework help and snack.

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Afterwards, the children have had the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports, skills and crafts workshops.

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And we end each week with a lesson time.  Our goal has been to share each week how God created them, how He loves them, and how He has a great plan for their lives.  We’ve also been working through the book of James and learning some great key verses that have encouraged and helped the kids throughout the year.

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And I guess I write this story today, to share a few things that have been on my heart.

1.  Trying something new, is a good thing.  I went from having about 8 kids during the last month of our Kids Club, to meeting up with about 45-50 each week now that we are doing Hangtime.  We were able to take a concept and adjust it to fit new needs and it’s been a great success.

2.  This is for the churches, and for those of us that work in ministry.  Our churches are in amazing communities.  And in my experience, there is no greater way to reach out to your community, than to offer something to support the children in your community.  Also, Hangtime has not only benefited the families in our communities, it’s also been wonderful for so many members of our church who have decided to get involved in helping out.

3.  Kids need our help.  Let’s be honest.  It’s a tough world out there.  There is so much hurt and brokenness in our society and taking time to love and encourage kids does make a difference.  These kids are our future, but they are also here now and each week at Hangtime, we strive to show them love and to teach them truth.

4.  And finally, this one’s for the parents.  If you are local to Eastport or our wonderful surrounding communities, we would love to have your child join us for Hangtime.  We offer pickup from Eastport Elementary and Tuttle Avenue School and are open to any children who are able to join us on Wednesdays from 3:30pm-5:30pm.  We will help, feed, love and encourage your child every week.  They are important to you and they are important to us too.

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Thanks so much for taking time to read this story.  Every bit of good that has happened this year with Hangtime is because of God, His love and His great work, that is happening in our church and in our community.

Written by lauraherr8

I love Jesus, my Youth Pastor Husband and our two beautiful children. I'm a professional photographer and I love people, especially kids. My best days include time with my family, Hot Yoga and a Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cone.

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