Church prepares ‘gifts of the heart’ kits

Terry Sandusky, Special to The County
8 years ago

The Mapleton United Methodist Church has been busy assembling hygiene and school kits for Church World Service, which is the relief, development and refugee assistance arm of the National Council of the Churches of Christ. These packets are referred to as “Gifts of the Heart Kits,” and are small packages of supplies assembled by volunteers and shipped to people in need around the world.

The Mapleton church has put together more than 100 of each type of kit and is working to assemble many more. The school kits include a school bag, three notebooks, six pencils, pencil sharpener, large eraser, scissors, 24-count crayons and a ruler. The hygiene kits include a hand towel, wash cloth, bar of soap, 10 Band-Aids, toothbrush, nail file and large-tooth comb.

The kits are sent around the world. They are also distributed in the United States in areas hit by large natural disasters.

Because of the enormous worldwide refugee crisis and other natural disasters, the church’s plan is to continue an ongoing collection of these items throughout the year, in order to send as many kits as possible to children and adults who need them.

Anyone concerned about the struggles and needs of children and youth in dangerous and disaster-ridden areas of the world can participate in this humanitarian effort by dropping off listed items at the church. Donations will be greatly appreciated.

Camp closes for fall

On Sept. 16 and 17, men and boys from Aroostook County came together to winterize and close Baptist Park in Mapleton. There were 16 boys from the Caribou United Baptist, Bethany Baptist and Mapleton Baptist churches, along with several men from these and other churches in the county. They secured the camp and prepared it for the winter.

The very first camp session held at Baptist Park is for young people with diabetes. Camp Adventure is offered by Cary Medical Center and Baptist Park as a unique adventure camp every summer for youth with diabetes and related conditions.

This week-long, overnight program at Baptist Park combines fun outdoor activities with educational workshops, all led by a team of diabetes specialists, volunteers and other organizations such the Mapleton Lions Club.

Baptist Park’s regular camping season started after Camp Adventure and was considered a success as children and youth ages 4-18 had terrific experiences at Baptist Park.

The park has made been moving away from the longtime traditional summer camp experience to one of a variety of different types of camp. Each camping session had a specific focus, starting with Theater Camp led by Maureen Seavey, who led the camp in a study of Jonah through a production of a play about Jonah. There was a digital arts media camp that taught campers how to prepare and use short digital videos in their churches. Then came flight camp, led by Pastor Jim Ackerson, where campers learned the fundamentals of flight and what it takes to be a missionary pilot.

There were also the Outdoors Adventure, Lifting Off and Maxed Out Adventure Weeks that combined traditional camping and games activities with biblical studies. As a first this year, Sue Hagerstrom led a Wednesday day camp for preschoolers called the Puddle Jumpers. These youngsters had the opportunity to experience the joy of the Lord through swimming, catching frogs, playing games and arts and crafts.

Baptist Park officials thank supporting churches and individual supporters across Aroostook County, especially the folks who came to close the park and prepare it for next year’s opening. The park looks forward to more and new exciting experiences for campers in 2017.

Terry Sandusky is the Star-Herald correspondent for Mapleton, Chapman and Castle Hill and can be reached at 764-4916 or at