In response to our youth pastor's challenge of becoming more involved in community outreach, my junior high small group from church agreed that we would find projects we could do together throughout the year to bless others.
The first of these happened last weekend.
I had the girls over to my house for a blanket-making party.
It should be noted that my co-leader (Anna) and I presented ideas to the group, but they made the decision together, followed by one of the girls (Britt) taking the lead. Not two days after we decided to make blankets, Britt called to tell me the fabric store where her mom worked was having a sale on fleece. So, I met them there the next morning and we bought enough panels to make sixteen lap blankets for the elderly.
The girls arrived at 12noon on Saturday and left at 5pm. What happened in those five hours was similar to a circus act, minus the trapeze artists and elephants.
If you recall, last October I hosted a slumber party. Three of those girls are also in my small group, so they showed up full of energy and eager to recount all of the things that happened at the sleepover to the others who weren't there, including a tour of our spooky basement and the prank we pulled on Chris.
So naturally, the first order of business had to be pranking Chris (again).
Since we were short on time, the girls quickly devised a plan to have it look like, instead of me having killed them, they killed me. They all grabbed kitchen utensils (serving spoons, a whisk, spatula, tongs and a turkey baster (??)) and hovered over my 'dead' body. When Chris walked in the door, all he could see were them standing in a circle looking down and then running away, with me laying on the kitchen floor holding my breath and trying not to laugh. We didn't have as much time to rehearse, so it was a spontaneous effort that ended in a fit of giggles.
Then came lunch. I fed them grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, and the snacks they each brought from home. We had fun talking about girl stuff and followed our nosh with.. what's that you say? Making blankets? Oh no, that didn't happen until after the girls decided to paint my husband's fingernails.
Yes, all ten of them. Yes, with all the colors of nail polish I could find in my house. It would have taken a week to dry.
Chris was such a good sport, but quickly made his exit post-manicure.
The blankets came next and the girls did well to organize the operation, working in partners and showing me how it was done. We made small versions of the fleece tie blankets that have become so popular (Chris and I received two large ones during the holidays this year - they have helped get us through our first Ohio winter), but cut only one panel for each and created knotted ends instead of tying two pieces together. After we had all of the blankets cut, we sat in a circle in the livingroom and chatted while we tied. At church, the girls only have a few minutes to tell me stories from their week, but on this day they had a few hours.
I can assure you they had more than enough words to fill up the time.
Could they be any cuter?
There was one other break in the afternoon that involved a communal pitcher of Hawaiian Punch, strawberries dipped in sugar, Britt's homemade chocolate, ice cream, fresh baked cookies, about ten minutes of a movie we ended up abandoning for conversation, and squealing.. lots of squealing.
By the time 5 o'clock rolled around, the girls were pooped. They may have talked themselves into fatigue or perhaps they suffered from a serious sugar crash. Either way, I have a feeling they all slept well that night.
(I sure did.)
Part of the entertainment for me was when the parents picked up their children and each gave me a look of gratitude mixed with concern. I don't think they realized they were doing it, but I suspect they have become accustomed to showing sympathy to anyone else who braves the company of junior high kids for an extended period of time. It's really sweet.
I just love parents and admire them for their strength in the midst of tween/teen drama and raging hormones.
The blankets are perfect and our hope is that the residents of Elmcroft Assisted Living Community will receive them with all the love that went in to making them.. and maybe some of the laughter, too.