Children's Halloween art project will be given to residents of St. Alphonsus Care Center

By Chris Collins

Children attending the Methodist Church's Thursday Activity Club have set their sights on bringing sunshine into the lives of others as Halloween approaches.

The children who gathered for the Oct. 24 club session brought a plentiful supply of creativity for a pumpkin-decorating party. The pumpkins were taken to St. Alphonsus Care Center for the enjoyment of the residents there.

Before the children let their creative juices flow, Juli Romero, one of the Thursday Activity Club (TAC) adult leaders, read from a book titled "Have You Filled A Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids" by author Carol McCloud.

In reading the book, Romero encouraged the children to decorate the pumpkins as a way of "filling buckets" of the nursing home residents by showing them they care about them.

"You fill a bucket when you show love to someone, say or doing something kind or even when you give someone a smile," McCloud writes in her book.

And by filling someone else's bucket, you fill your own bucket, too, she says.

A "bucket dipper," on the other hand, is one who "says or does mean things that makes others feel bad," according to McCloud.

Romero, a former school teacher who was familiar with McCloud's work, said the goal is to read a story each week that relates to the concept of the day.

Nine-year-old Destini Calder was eager to get to work decorating her pumpkin for the delight of the nursing home residents.

"I'm just trying to make this really pretty for them," she said, as she glued yarn and stickers on her pumpkin and drew black-ink bows to add to the decor.

Eight-year-old Jeremiah Collins and his sister, Joslyn, 6, applied several sheets of happy-face stickers to their pumpkins.

"I think it's going to be funny," Joslyn said of her decorating plan.

Kelly Cranley, 9, dubbed her creation the "Four-Eyed Monster," for obvious reasons. In addition to the four large plastic black-and-white eyes glued to her pumpkin, she also added a fuzzy tail, sharp ink-drawn teeth, a fuzzy beard and two sets of ears.

Trendon Starr, who says he's "10 and moving on to 11," decorated one of his pumpkins with feathers and worked to complete a second two-faced model. He attends the weekly club with his brother, Leland Starr, 7.

Before the Thursday session ended, the children signed their names to a poster that will be displayed at the care center along with their pumpkins. It sends their wishes for a "Happy Halloween" to the residents.

The Thursday Activity Club (TAC) is offered free to children in kindergarten through Grade 6 and meets from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. each week during the school year at the Methodist Church at 1919 Second St.

The decorations and the pumpkins for the Halloween project were supplied by teachers Leona Cameron, Linda Robbins, Judy Lutz and Romero. Sally Farmer and Joyce Richmond provide snacks, which during the last session included Rice Krispies treats, cheese and crackers, apple and bananas.

The women eagerly praised the children and prompted them to cooperate with each other and to use good manners as they created their uniquely adorned pumpkins.

The works of art will be included in the St. Alphonsus Care Center's pumpkin decorating contest scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31. TAC will not meet on that day because of the Halloween events scheduled throughout the community.

The club, which was started at the Methodist Church about 10 years ago, is offered as "a modified Sunday school," said Lutz, another retired teacher and church member.

Most of the children who participate don't attend church regularly.

"This is an alternative for them to come and experience Sunday School things," she said.