When Oklahoma schools shut down because of the statewide teacher walkout on 2 April, Mustang Church of the Nazarene offered a safe alternative for the children with no place to go. From 4 to 6 April, Associate Pastor Kym Drabenstot led the church in providing a day camp that hosted up to 50 students from Kindergarten through 4th grade.
“For two days, we offered a camp at the church with music, recreation, physical activity, music, a devotional, crafts, and STEM activities,” Drabenstot said. “On the third day, we took a field trip to the Oklahoma City Science Museum. The cost for the field trip day was $10 to cover museum admission, but we provided sack lunch and snacks.”
Needless to say, Drabenstot could not have done this on her own. The Mustang Church staff and several members from the community all came together to make this event a success.
“We sent out a text to church members asking for people to volunteer for even an hour or two,” Drabenstot said. “We had some of our Kids Day Out and pre-k teachers help. Each staff person took an hour, the music pastor did music, youth pastor did recreation, children's pastor planned day camp/oversaw it, etc., and various church members even came in to teach a segment.”
They even had several teens from their youth ministries who volunteered to help out for the whole day, and a local CROSSFIT trainer who did a session on fitness. Some of the other volunteers helped with science projects, reading stories, playing games, and many other activities.
“Our desire was to help working parents and teachers by providing some educational activities for kids for those days,” Drabenstot said. “While we wished we could have continued Day Camp past the three days, we are hosting District Assembly at our church this week [so we couldn’t make it work].”
Starting 11 April until the end of strike, the church, and many other churches in Mustang, partnered with local schools and the Regional Food Bank to serve sack lunches to any student 18 years of age and younger from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. They specifically partnered with Lakehoma Elementary school since Drabenstot’s kids are students there and the assistant principal is now attending Mustang Church of the Nazarene.
After nearly two weeks, the teacher strike ended, and the children returned to school on 16 April.
"This experience proved the willingness of the church to step up and partner with their communities to provide assistance, whether it be a natural disaster or a teacher walkout," Drabenstot said. "I am thankful that our church had the opportunity to help Mustang families and support our hard-working teachers."
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