With each plunk of a penny and every dollar bill converted into change, children from Pre-K through sixth grades worked together to make a big difference for children in poverty-stricken nations from Sunday, June 11 through Friday, June 18, during Vacation Bible School (VBS) at South Side Baptist Church.

With each plunk of a penny and every dollar bill converted into change, children from Pre-K through sixth grades worked together to make a big difference for children in poverty-stricken nations from Sunday, June 11 through Friday, June 18, during Vacation Bible School (VBS) at South Side Baptist Church.

Pastor Scott Hawes said he showed videos to the children each day about Operation Christmas Child, which gets shoeboxes filled with toys and hygiene essentials into the hands of children in impoverished nations. Hawes said the children experienced the joy on the 100,000s of thousands of recipients of the boxes, observing that they learned about Jesus amid their happiness. VBS Director Eric Pahlman said a friendly competition between the boys and girls ended with the boys winning four evenings and the girls winning two evenings — with everyone collecting a grand total of $477.18 in pennies to cover the $9 required to send each Operation Christmas Child box abroad.

Pahlman said each lesson of “Operation Arctic: Exploring the Coolest Book on the Planet” shared a different aspect of the Bible, including how it “has had an incredible impact on our world,” “is the bedrock base of our lives” and “is a letter of love in which God tells us how we can become his children.” Hawes said the children put their faith and knowledge of God’s word into action through their donations.

“Our focus was on the word and living the word of God,” he said.

Throughout the week, an average of 53 students and attended, along with 37 adult volunteers. Pahlman and Hawes said that everyone in the church family helped with refreshments and other activities. Pedal’rs donated two bicycles, which were awarded to two attendees who brought along the most visitors.

The youth’s competition and resulting donation showed them how their giving reflected the lessons they learned each day during VBS. And they will doubtlessly continue to help as the time draws near to pack at least 125 shoeboxes — the goal for 2017, Hawes said — with gifts for children who are less fortunate.

To find out more about Operation Christmas Child, please visit: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ . For more information about South Side Baptist Church, please go to http://www.southsidebaptisthannibal.org .

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com