Saturday, October 24, 2009

Things to Save for Crafty Ministry

The idea of shoestring ministry is to make the best use of the resources God has given us. Recycling items rather than purchasing is good stewardship. Sharing from our abundance is showing love. Keeping stuff out of landfills is caring for the earth God gave us.

To share with shelters:
First, the golden rule of ministering on a shoestring – never turn down something free; never leave behind something you paid for.

Those little soaps and cosmetics from hotels – you may have brought your own, but someone in a homeless shelter or safe house can use these personal care supplies.

Sample sizes of nearly anything – food samples can go to food ministries; child care items help crisis pregnancy centers and homeless shelters; personal care items can go to homeless shelters or safe houses; pet care items to humane societies or pet rescue organizations.

For crafting projects:
The silver rule of ministering on a shoe string – clean thoroughly if there is any chance that food stuffs or human fluids (such as saliva) have been in contact with the surface. A good wipe down or wipe out may serve for some items. Others need soap-and-water washing or even soaking for a little while in a mild bleach solution. Safety first!

As I add projects to the blog, I’ll place links under the appropriate item used in the project. I’ll be happy to add links you might suggest in comments, as well. This document will be an ever-changing resource for you.
If you have space to store saved items, you’re ahead of the game. Class leaders may want to consider asking parents each to submit the item or items for their own child, if they can’t come up with enough of a needed item on their own.

Bottle caps (with thanks to Crafts for the King!): Musical instruments

Cardboard inserts

Cardboard rolls from toilet tissue, paper towels, food storage wraps and wrapping paper: Cardboard tube crafts; Musical instruments

Coffee cans and tubs, with lids (wash and air dry thoroughly): Musical instruments

Cotton from aspirin bottles

Dryer lint

Empty soda and milk containers (wash and air dry thoroughly): Musical instruments

Empty tissue boxes: Musical instruments

Fabric and trim scraps

Hinged boxes, such as sneaker boxes

Ice cream sticks (wash and air dry thoroughly)

Individual-sized yogurt containers with or without lids

Milk jug rings

Nature magazines

Newspapers and ads printed on newsprint

Old socks and nylons

Out-of-date calendars

Plastic drink cups from restaurants

Plastic lids to discarded containers (Wash and air dry thoroughly)

Ribbon scraps

Salt containers

Small boxes, including cigar boxes

Small jars, including baby food jars (wash and air dry thoroughly)

Styrofoam meat trays (wash and air dry thoroughly)

Styrofoam packing pieces

Twist ties

Yarn scraps

If you have items to add to the list, please tell me in a comment. I’ll add it and credit your suggestion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ghosties and Ghoulies - Halloween Ideas

October brings Halloween, and with it the presence of little ghosts (friendly and otherwise) for parties and activities. Here are some quick and easy ghost ideas.

White napkins (paper to give away or fabric to last) or white facial tissue – up to 2 per ghost
Thanks to CraftsfortheKing - Any white fabric or handkerchief will work
White yarn or pipe cleaners, cut in six inch lengths
Crayons or markers
Round head lollipops (optional)
Cupcakes (optional)
Popcorn balls (optional)
Styrofoam balls (optional)
Balloons (optional)

Let’s start with party activities:
Give each child two napkins. Have them wad one up in a ball (Watch the fun as they squeeze and shape the napkins!).

Center the second napkin over the first and gather around the balled up napkin. Tie with white yarn or a white pipe cleaner to form the ghost’s neck.

Use crayons or markers to draw eyes on the ghost’s face. (Younger kids might do better to draw the face near the center fold of the second napkin before wrapping it.)

Presto! There’s a little ghost to take home as a remembrance of the party. (Special thanks to Dr. Karen Romito of HobbyTown USA in Folsom, CA for reminding me of this activity!)

Working with children in the sticker-crazy phase? Use colored sticker dots as the eyes.

Party favors:

Center a quarter-folded paper napkin over the head of a round lollipop and tie under the head to make ghosts that can stand up in a piece of Styrofoam. It’s a tasty little party favor that serves as a decoration in the meantime.

As dessert:
Stand the lollipop ghost in a cupcake to make individual desserts/decorations for your party attendees.

Wrap a napkin around a popcorn ball (wrap it first in plastic wrap) for a larger version of a dessert ghost.

Party decorations:
Add a yarn loop at the top of the ghost’s head to hang the little fellows as decorations. Use the cloth napkins for outdoor d├ęcor – they’ll hold up to weather better.

Use balloons to form the heads for a more ethereal look if there will be light shining on them.

Use a Styrofoam ball as the form for the head for a larger ghost decoration. This is a more expensive version, but may be just the centerpiece you need.

Remember, you can adapt these projects to fit your budget, group size and skill level. Please let me know how you use this with your group.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How to be a Godparent - whatever your denomination

Many baby supply companies offer programs where you can register for samples and coupons for their products. You can begin before the child is even born. In the course of registering, they ask about your relationship to the baby or soon-to-be-born.

I started registering for these sites when a friend asked to stand as Godmother to her baby girl. They remind you of the baby's development and offer suggestions for appropriate toys and activities (mostly their own products, of course) as well as the previously mentioned samples and coupons.

Some of the products weren't appropriate for her baby, so I gave them to my church's ministry in support of the local Right-to-Life organization. They in turn distributed them to families in need.

When my "subscriptions" ran out (when my Goddaughter turned a year old), I realized I would be losing these resources for other children. I have since registered as Godmother to babies several times. Each of the items I receive gets prayed over and a prayer goes with it to the child who will get it. I consider myself Godmother to each of those children, even though I don't know their names.

If your congregation works with an organization dealing with children, you can be a Godparent, too. It's a solemn responsibility, but a great joy.

Mary Beth

BOGOGO -- Buy One-Get One-Give One!

One of the favorite tricks of retailers is to offer a "Buy One, Get One" special. Whether it be "buy one can of soup, get one free" or "buy one pair of shoes, get one at 50% off," the specials are all over. Sometimes you only need ONE. The second item may spoil before you can use it or there aren't any other shoes you need. Whatever the reason, you can turn that special into a ministry opportunity.

Food items: check out your local food pantry. Pretty much anything is needed these days, what with the economy the way it is. So take that second can of soup or gallon of milk or head of lettuce and bring it to your local church or civic food pantry. A few specify only non-perishable items if they have no means to refrigerate, but others will take anything edible.

Shoes, clothes: You may not need an extra pair of shoes or socks or another shirt. Someone does. Look for something practical and serviceable (sneakers are always good in shoes, T-shirts or jeans in clothing) and check your church clothing ministry. Your church doesn't have a clothes ministry? Check Christian radio sites such as or They frequently affiliate with missions ministries to collect shoes ( is one that comes to mind) or garments for those in need.

Knapsacks, backpacks,etc.: Got a free backpack and don't need it? Once again, look for Christian radio stations (and some secular ones as well) who partner with organizations to provide underprivileged school children with school supplies, including backpacks.

Do you see a pattern forming here? If you can get a deal on something you can pass on, it's a BOGOGO! So keep your eyes open for opportunities and places to use them. You'll be surprised how far a little BOGOGO can go!

Mary Beth