Easter bags and chocolate bunnies are prepared for delivery to the children in Emerald Youth Foundation's programs
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
Everything is different now. Life has changed in countless ways. We are missing our friends and families. We long for connection and outreach. How do we find and appreciate the “new thing” that God is doing?
For the Emerald Youth Foundation in Knoxville, this new thing meant completely re-orienting their after-school and sports programs to meet the needs of their “sheltered-in-place” communities. They began by posting all kinds of family resources, a stream flowing with help and hope in a wasteland of fear and distress. It includes everything from how to find individual assistance, to faith resources to water the seeds of faith sprouting as we turn to God in this time of need, and health resources while group sports are on hold.
Instead of their large community Easter egg hunt, they filled bags with eggs and treats and delivered them to homes in the community, sometimes hiding the eggs, ringing the doorbell, and watching the children delightedly find them in the front yard.
Churches that typically provide a Wednesday night dinner at their Lonsdale facility, quickly stepped up insisting that they wanted to stay engaged. Last week, they prepared and delivered hot meals throughout the community (while carefully adhering to the CDC guidelines for social distancing).
What else are they doing? SO MUCH that we’re just giving you a sampling:
• “Check in” phone calls and texts
• Food/supply support and deliveries
• Remote small group devotions and academic support
• Book and movie promotion – staff checks out books for a child and when the child completes the book, the family gets reward - watching the movie with a tub of snacks
• Students in their Calling and Career group for High Schoolers can win a pizza for working through their at-home packet
• Competition for the largest number of (virtual) engagements in Calling and Career in a week
• Youth Contacts via FaceTime and video games
• Partnering with the Union of Churches to use money set aside for Vacation Bible School to make supply boxes for people in Lonsdale
• Workout plans and videos for kids and adults
• Sports challenges! Number of juggles per day, dribbles down the street, etc – kids can video themselves and send in
• Sports team managers and coaches are reaching out to kids via social media, calls, texts, etc
• Sweet treat deliveries - Bakery and gift card deliveries
• Weekend backpack food program in partnership with Community Schools – packing and delivery
• Helping families complete unemployment applications
• Video messages and hand written notes to kids and families
• Taped storytelling times for elementary kids
• FaceTime Zumba workouts
Creative inspiration for New Things during this difficult time. Thank you Emerald Youth Foundation!