Osky VBS crafts birdbaths for charity


By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

OSKALOOSA — Crafts are a common activity during Vacation Bible School (VBS) but this year, St. Mary Church decided to do something a little different. Deviating from the usual sun-catchers and picture frames, students and staff instead made two full-sized clay birdbaths, one of which will be used to raise money for a Kenyan orphanage.

Vacation Bible School students get ready to mount their clay animals onto birdbaths the week of June 1 at St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa. One of the birdbaths will be auctioned off to raise money for an orphanage in Kenya.

“Usually we do crafts, but we decided that this year, we would make something a little longer lasting,” said Donna DeJoode, director of religious education at St. Mary.

Added 17-year-old helper Claire Carmichael, “It think this was an awesome idea because we’re not making crafts that will probably be thrown away, but rather are making art that will last a long time and benefit many people.”


Students adorned the birdbaths with “weird animals,” to go along with St. Mary’s VBS theme this year. Creations included snakes, dinosaurs, turtles, bears and made-up animals.

While one or two students said they preferred traditional crafts, most of the students said they preferred the bigger project of making clay animals for the birdbaths. Jake North, 7, made imaginary birds and unicorns. “I loved getting my hands dirty and being creative,” he said.
The basins and pedestals were made in advance, and the birdbaths will be fired, glazed and re-fired. One of the birdbaths will be put up for silent auction this fall, with proceeds going to the Kenyan orphanage that a team of parishioners plan to serve on a mission trip in 2015. The other birdbath will be displayed at St. Mary Church.

Ten-year-old Aden Scott said he enjoyed craft time more this year because of the charitable aspect. “It’s a win-win situation. We get to use our imaginations and have fun, but we are also serving God and helping other kids.”

VBS helper Hannah Hirl, 17, said she enjoyed seeing the children learn about teamwork and how they can help people in need. “Kids were able to see the connection to the Kenyan kids and they really wanted to do a good job because they knew the profits were going to help kids just like them. It was an awesome experience. It also shows that several small pieces put together can make something very beautiful.”

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