Sidewalk Kids Hour Wraps Up Sixth Season

Several rows of children scrunch together on the front edge of a tarp in Orchards Park in Vancouver, Wash., waiting for the weekly Sidewalk Kids Hour to begin.

Greg and Shelly Hillman, "pied pipers" from the Orchards Church, have led a growing team in this summertime venture for the past six years. It began with their vision that Pathfinders needed a way to put leadership talents to use.

The seasonal effort now harnesses gifts of more than 20 young people — several of whom are paid summer staff. Many more volunteer church members (teens through senior citizens), set up, run the public address system and serve food. One awning covers a sno-cone machine, which provides refreshing treats. Depending on the day and park, attendance ranges from 80–120 children and parents from surrounding neighborhoods.

Young people, many from Columbia Adventist Academy in Battle Ground, Wash., conceived and wrote this year's program. It involves the children in a story with biblical truths and music while providing a context for the afternoon's games and activities.

John Wesslen, Orchards Church pastor, says the budget has grown with the vision. It now costs more than $20,000 to fund the annual outreach — an amount shared this year with the Riverside Church in nearby Washougal, Wash. But Wesslen believes it's money well-spent. "It would be worth it," he says, "just for the growth we've seen in our student leaders."

One day a little girl tugged at Wesslen's sleeve and asked, "Where did you get all this stuff?"

"A lot of people have given it to us," he said. "Well, I used to have $42," she replied. "And if I still had it, I'd give it to you to help kids like me."

Stories like this keep the Sidewalk Kids Hour as a vital part of local church ministry.

October 01, 2010 / Oregon Conference