4th-graders to aid Helping Hands at FBC

Heather McGuire was among the Helping Hands Ministry participants who enjoyed meeting and petting Buck, a Human Animal Bond in Tennessee support dog following an assembly Thursday, Feb. 13, in Concord Christian School. The school’s fourth-graders, whose mission focus is the ministry, also were present, learning how they can help send Helping Hands members to Joni & Friends Summer Camp.
It might still technically be winter, but Concord Christian School fourth-graders have their eyes on summer with some upcoming events to benefit First Baptist Concord’s Helping Hands Ministry and its members who will be attending Joni & Friends Summer Camp.

As part of the school’s “Disability Awareness Week” focus Feb. 24-28, students will be hosting a two-day bake sale Feb. 27-28 to raise money for Camp, and the program will also be a recipient of two Turkey Creek restaurant public fundraisers.

Last year, the CCS fourth-graders raised around $3,400 — enough money to send eight individuals to camp outright, with additional funds left over to go toward expenses for a ninth.

Diane Knudsen, program director for Helping Hands, said the group typically takes 16 campers and additional staffers to camp annually.

“Each of our grade levels here have a missions focus,” she explained. “And for the fourth grade, it is Helping Hands.”

The school has paired up the ministry, which meets on First Baptist Concord’s campus, with fourth-graders for the last seven years, and the students are introduced to the program participants in a number of ways throughout the year, starting with a meet-and-greet chapel assembly in the fall.

Last Thursday, Feb. 13, Knudsen led a second joint chapel session, in which she described more in-depth details of what special needs individuals might experience.

Fellow CCS seventh-grader Ava Gleason shared her own personal experiences with her two special needs brothers, and Trent Steele brought his Human Animal Bond in Tennessee dog, Buck, and related how Buck helps individuals cope with a variety of issues.

“It is really important that we help our students learn about disabilities and how to engage with others,” Knudsen said. “It has really made an impact, too, because at least one of our students went on to do her senior project about Helping Hands, and another student decided he wanted to go to the Joni & Friends camp as a counselor.”

“Diane does a wonderful job helping to bring our students to a comfortable place, where they can learn about Helping Hands, and how they can interact and even help and make a difference,” said Stephanie Mason, CCS director of marketing.

Fourth-grade students’ parents have been asked to bake or buy items to send to the school for the internal bake sale, but the community can help out, too.

On Monday, Feb. 24, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Blaze Pizza will donate 20 percent of the proceeds from food sales to help send Helping Hands participants to camp. Those wishing to support the effort must show the flyer — either a physical copy or on a smart phone. The image is available at http://bit.ly/CCSHelpingHandsWeek. Mason also has created a Facebook event with the flyer image, which can be shared.

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, patrons may visit Zaxby’s from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., and mention or show that flyer with 20 percent of the night’s proceeds to the cause.