A focus on giving at St. John Vianney’s Snowflake Central


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

BETTENDORF — Isabella Hill carefully wrapped the crafts she made to give as presents for her family this Christmas. The 7-year-old did so after spending the evening of Dec. 10 at Snowflake Central at St. John Vianney Parish.

Anne Marie Amacher
Ella Rubel colors a tile for a ceramic wall hanging gift at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf. The craft was part of an event called Snowflake Central on making and giving gifts.

This was the 10th year the parish has offered the workshop for youngsters, said Nicky Stevenson, director of religious education.

“We want to focus on giving, not receiving,” she said. “We wanted to give the kids an opportunity to make presents for their parents, siblings and teachers. And in addition to making their gifts, they can wrap them here, too.”


Depending on the ages of their children, parents either accompanied their youngsters to help them with crafts or sat at tables and mingled with other adults.

About 30 members of the youth ministry program ran the various stations to teach the young children how to make the crafts and to collect admission tickets for the event. Crafts required from one to three tickets each. For children who were sick or otherwise unable to attend, parents could turn in tickets and bring supplies home.

A variety of crafts are offered each year, Stevenson said. Two favorites are the hot cocoa cones and Hershey bar wrappers. In general, there are 10 craft stations each year.

At the hot cocoa cone station, older youths helped the younger ones fill a cone-shaped plastic bag with dried cocoa, add a layer of marshmallows and top it off with broken candy cane pieces. The older youths tied the bags and the smaller kids added a holiday ribbon.

Another station that drew attention had to do with a ceramic wall hanging. Children like Ella Rubel, 4, colored a white tile square with Sharpie markers. Then she brought it to teens who added drops of rubbing alcohol and blow dried the artwork on the cool setting to give the tile a tie-dye look.

Jill Rubel said her family likes to attend events at St. John Vianney, especially ones that children can participate in. “This was our first time at Snowflake Central.”

More than 300 people attended the craft event. “Some even stay late to finish wrapping because they need to let their crafts dry,” Stevenson said.

She said the program has come full circle. Many of the teen helpers started out as small kids attending Snowflake Central and now are on the other side of the table helping out.

Isabella, whose family joined St. John Vianney around Easter this year, said her favorite activity was coloring a plastic cape. She enjoyed her evening and wants to return next year.

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