Happy, Happy Halloween!

Today may be Halloween but Wildside Youth started celebrating a little early!

Last Tuesday around 60 kids from Hagerstown enjoyed an evening of costumes, games, spooks, stories, and plenty of great food at our annual Fall-O-Ween party. The Trinity Center was transformed into a Halloween-themed carnival where kids were able to play all sorts of different games where they could win various Halloween prizes. In addition to the carnival games, the kids braved a spooky tunnel that delivered them into a “spooky room” with more Halloween fun!

The night wasn’t all games and prizes. Nothing is more exciting on Halloween than a good story which is exactly what Wildside delivered. The kids heard the tale of Tartan the Werewolf who helped to tell a valuable tale to the kids about how God loves us and welcomes us into His family even though He is perfect and we are not. Based off the verse, “even if my father and mother abandoned me, the Lord would take me in”, the story is helping to remind these kids that they are so important and valuable to God and they are never alone or forgotten.

But is it really a party without some great food? Volunteers cooked up some scary good food for the kids who came and provided Halloween treats for everyone. Everyone had a great time at Fall-O-Ween but we couldn’t have done it without all of the staff and volunteers who put so much time and work into making these events so much fun for all of the kids who attend. And we can’t forget to thank each of you who help to support The Hope Center through prayer, financial support, and other means to help us continue to keep all activities, programs and services free for everyone, including kids, in our community! Thank you for helping provide such a wonderfully frightening night for these kids!

Every year Fall-O-Ween is a fun evening of Halloween fun where kids can be themselves and enjoy this holiday in a safe environment. But the Wildside fun is just getting started! There are plenty more parties and events coming up including Wildside’s Thanksgiving party in a few short weeks as well as hosting some games and other activities during our Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast on Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd, starting at 11am in the Trinity Center. For more information please call 301.739.1165 and visit http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

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Another Great Party-in-the-Park!

On Saturday, October 22nd we hosted our second annual fall Party-in-the-Park at Wheaton Park in Hagerstown.

This Halloween themed event is designed to be an outreach event by going into our surrounding neighborhoods and meeting the many wonderful families and residents of these areas.

Originally meant to be an actual park party, we eventually moved our party into the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center due to high winds. We are very thankful to the staff of the  Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center for offering the building for use for our event. We appreciate being a part of such a kind and giving community!

Even though our event was indoors, that didn’t stop anyone, including our 30 volunteers, from having fun! From games, to face painting, entertainment, food and more our volunteers worked hard to make this event a success.

We enjoy being able to go out into our community to build stronger relations with our neighbors. This may only be our second time hosting this party but it most certainly won’t be our last. We want to build strong bonds with our neighbors so that we can work together to make Hagerstown a better place.

This event was sponsored by our Ladies’ Auxiliary. All the expenses of this event were underwritten by the Auxiliary and we are so thankful for their commitment to this ministry and our community. As you can see our Ladies’ Auxiliary are a very important and beneficial part of The Hope Center. This event and many other events are sponsored by this wonderful group of women. If you are interested in being a part of our Ladies’ Auxiliary then call 301.739.1165 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net. We are always looking for more women to get involved and help us keep events like the Party-in-the-Park going year after year.

As successful as this party was, we know that we couldn’t have done it without the help from all of our great volunteers! We firmly believe that we have the best volunteers in the tri-state. Thank you to each of the volunteers who gave hours of their Saturday to help us create so much magic and fun for our guests! We welcome you back to help us with any other event or activity that we’re hosting. And we need to give a special shout out to Gene Ridenour, president of our Board of Directors, and Jeff Reed. Both of these men have been very vital to all of our party events. Gene entertains kids and adults alike with his balloon modeling and Jeff makes everyone happy by being the best grillmaster in Hagerstown! Thank you both for giving of your time to reach our community.

If you’re interested in volunteering at The Hope Center then please go to http://www.volunteerhagerstown.com and learn more about the various ways you can be involved. You can also contact us by calling 301.739.1165 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

 

 

Party-in-the-Park is Back!!!!!

Our Halloween Party-in-the-Park is almost here!

Join us at Wheaton Park on Saturday, October 24th from 3-6pm for games, prizes, food, fun and more!

This is a free event for anyone and everyone so spread the word and invite all your friends, family & neighbors.

For more information about the event, including volunteer info, please call 301.739.1165.

See ya Saturday!!

60th Park Party Fall

Flashback: Camp Wild 2015

Even though the carefree days of summer are a thing of the past, our memory of the excitement of all the various summer activities lives on!

As we all start to bundle up, sip our delicious PSL and enjoy the crispness of the air, we want to take a quick trip back to one of the highlights of our summer: Camp Wild 2015.

In case you’re not familiar with what Camp Wild is, let’s get you up to speed.

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Every summer Wildside Youth Ministries at The Hope Center hosts four unbelievably fun weeks of camp for kids in Hagerstown. This camp is free for any kid between the ages of 5 -12 and we even provide complimentary transportation to kids living in certain parts of the city.

While at Camp Wild, the kids are given an assortment of activities to be a part of. From singing, to group games, hiking, art projects, interactive Bible lessons, hands-on educational activities, swimming, and more, the campers are not lacking for excitement each day.

Since Camp Wild is a free ministry to the kids of Hagerstown, we rely on the generous support of donors and volunteers to make each summer possible for our campers. We’re so thankful to say that since the 1970’s our summer camp programs, Conoco Camp/Camp Wild, have been blessed by God and He has provided the necessary funds, volunteers and resources to reach hundreds of kids for Christ! Thank you to everyone who has been a part of our summer camp outreach programs in the past.

Camp Wild 2015

Camp Wild 2015 was an amazing summer of ministry. God proved Himself faithful by providing over and over again in the areas of drivers, counselors, donations, and plenty of campers. We ministered to 228 children, sharing with them the message of Jesus’ love and salvation. Churches like Tri-State Fellowship, Faith Christian Fellowship, Maranatha Brethren Church, and Grace Point Community Church came along side us in the ministry. A truly fantastic summer.

This summer’s lesson series focused on our core-value of relationships. In today’s culture there is a big need in understanding how to cultivate and maintain healthy, pure relationships. We wanted to use our lesson time to help children learn some great truths from the Bible about how we connect and bond with others.

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We began by explaining and defining a relationship. We learned through the Bible that we are to do our best to live in peace with everyone. This means that living in peace is a key to having good relationships with others. Fighting hurts relationships, but peace leads to life.

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After defining relationships we moved on to talking about the most important relationship of all, the one we have with Jesus Christ. Campers learned that we need to stop trying to live life our own way but start living life Jesus’ way. Our Bible verse for the day focused on how when we were God’s enemies He made peace with us through the death of Jesus.

Next, we moved on to talking about relationships with friends and family. Campers learned how it is necessary to have balance in relationships, to ask for forgiveness when needed, and to always forgive others as Christ forgave us. They learned the key to having good relationships with parents comes from God’s command that children are to obey their parents in all things because this pleases Him.

We spent some time talking about a negative relationship- enemies. We all have relationships that require hard work. In this lesson we talked about loving enemies and praying for those who hurt us, just like Jesus did when He sacrificed Himself for us.

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The week concluded with learning how having successful relationships will lead to having a successful life. The Bible commands us to encourage one another and give each other strength. Nothing in life is a complete solo task, we depend on others and others depend on us. Because of this, our lives and dreams need to be centered around Jesus and serving the needs of others.

Africa Park
This year saw the re-opening of our Africa park. We went back to the roots of camp and gave our African-themed area a complete facelift and overhaul. This involved both major and minor renovations, a new attraction, lots of paint, and tons of flags.

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Part of the transformation process began in 2012 by opening GPS, God’s Preaching System, in what was to become the Habari Jungle. This was the first part of a three-year strategy to consolidate our existing African attractions to one area of the campground while opening the Latin America and Asia parks. In 2013 we moved The Dig and Sanaa into their permanent spots.

This year we added new signs to the camp, new exhibits, new buildings, and lots of details to really make campers feel like they have traveled into the heart of Africa. We added lots of decorative elements to the camp, repainted some old signs, and added new cultural elements all around the African park to enhance the camper’s experience. In an effort to celebrate the diversity of God’s creation among cultures, we added in 45 flag poles. These were used to display flags from African countries.

ZULU
One area we were very excited to open was Zulu! Campers traveled to South Africa to train how to be a Zulu warrior. The word Zulu means “people of Heaven’. Here camper’s learned about the armor of God, King Shaka Zulu, and the culture of the Zulu nation. Camper’s got to shoot bow and arrow, practice dodging splash balls with a shield, and learn how to toss a spear. Each activity took place in brightly painted, African gazebos.

Our new activity center was complete with an 8-foot display of the armor of God, real spears, an authentic cowhide shield, and a six-foot tall mannequin dressed as King Shaka. We also included a life-size elephant skull replica, as well as replicas of zebra and leopard skins.

KIJIJI EXPEDITION
After being closed for two years, we re-opened the Kijiji Expedition. This summer we shortened the trail, condensed the activity centers, and refurbished some displays to give them longevity. Arnold Horst and the S.W.A.T. team (Senior Worker Attack Team) completely transformed our temple area to include nice thick plywood walls and a sheet-metal roof. We created a new meerkat mound using Styrofoam and cement, as well as covering our existing termite mound in cement. We also added a back wall to one of our bamboo huts, really giving the campers the illusion that they had stepped into someone’s house in the jungle.

SENEGAL
Kids traveled to Senegal to visit two active learning centers. First up is the return of GPS. This year we made GPS, our missionary zone, into a word scavenger hunt. Campers would work in their Small Groups to figure out clues related to each of our Senegal cultural signs. At the end of the activity, all the kids reviewed things together and learned how they could be missionaries at home.

The second active learning center is Matu. We reopened this attraction after a year hiatus and put it in the middle of the GPS trail loop. Here at Matu campers learn about the creation of the world, the anatomy of a seed, Senegal’s exotic animals, the life cycle of a plant, and even take home a plant pot of their own. The goal of this hands-on learning center is to educate and celebrate God’s marvelous creation!

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At the Sanaa Trail, camper’s got to express their creativity and reflect their Creator God by making some different forms of art. This summer campers were able to make safari ornaments and color their own tribal masks.

The Dig is one of the camper’s favorite attractions. This archaeological dig simulator teaches campers the purpose of learning other cultures and the excitement of finding buried treasures. We always teach campers that you must also dig into the Word of God to find the true treasure of Jesus Christ and eternal salvation.

Matu Base/Shed
In an effort to make the best use of space, we placed the Matu attraction inside the loop created by GPS. We wanted to have a building erected that would serve as a jungle base for the kids to play in. Here the campers can look at animal replicas, play on a chalkboard, learn about God’s creation, and take a break from the sun’s heat. After camp ends, we utilize this space as storage for displays, tables, and most of our Africa décor. Having this new storage shed greatly reduced our clean up time this year while freeing up storage space at the office. The majority of the materials were donated by Mike & Bre Black and the construction was done by Arnold Horst and his crew.

Staff
This summer we introduced two new levels of staffing into Camp Wild. The first group is called Shepherds. These counselors were the ones who led the daily small group discussions with the campers. They were available if any campers had questions of a spiritual nature or need prayer.

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The second group added was the Student Trainee. These were older campers who had been appointed by the Director or Assistant Directors to pitch in to help out with small tasks where and when needed. Although Student Trainees did not have authority over other campers they proved to be a big asset in having a successful summer of camp.

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As camp moves forward, we hope to continue finding ways to better serve our faithful counselors. Equipping them better, giving them more training and encouragement has been invaluable in improving the quality and effectiveness of camp ministry.

Thank you to everyone who has donated of their time, talent, and treasure to make Camp Wild a success. Every year I am encouraged by the generosity of God‘s people, amazed at God’s faithfulness, and grateful for all everyone who cares about the campers and has sacrificed in order to give them a summer they’ll never forget!

To learn more about Camp Wild, including seeing more pictures from 2015, go to http://www.campwildusa.com.

Even though Camp Wild is over, the fun of Wildside isn’t! Our youth ministry hosts activities all year long! Go to http://www.wildsideyouth.com to learn more about our youth ministry program and all the activities Wildside has planned in the upcoming months.

Want to be a part of the action? We’re always looking for volunteers to help at Wildside and our other ministries at The Hope Center. Go to http://www.volunteerhagerstown.com to see all the various opportunities we have for you to get involved.

Maybe you don’t have the time to commit to volunteering but you really want to become a financial partner of The Hope Center. If this is you then don’t wait any longer to get in touch with us! We’re always thankful for our donors who help to fund all of our programs to the people in our community. Since we do not receive any tax money or government funding, we operate completely on the generosity of our faithful donors and Thrift Store patrons. Call 301.739.1165 or email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net to talk to somone about financially supporting this ministry.

Our Pantry Needs You!

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” Matthew 25:35

Since our beginning in 1955, one of our missions was to make sure that the hungry in Hagerstown had a welcomed place to eat. As our society has changed and economic troubles have hurt families, our mission to feed the less fortunate has changed from not just serving a hot plate of food but also making sure that families had food in their own cupboards to help them get through the month.

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Our pantry is looking a little too similar to Old Mother Hubbard’s these days. To be honest, it’s becoming a little difficult to keep our food bags filled with a nice variety of food.

Please consider helping us keep our pantry full for all of our daily guests, our residents and all our neighbors who need food bags for their homes.

The next time you’re at the grocery store, why not pick up a few of these items and drop them off? Or your church, Sunday School class, workplace, school, civic club, Boy/Girl scout troop or neighborhood could host a food drive to collect some of these much needed items.

Please help us fight hunger and hopelessness in Hagerstown!

PANTRY ITEMS NEEDED:
  • Macaroni & cheese boxed dinners
  • Hamburger Helper or similar boxed dinners
  • Spaghettios, Ravioli, or similar heat & serve pasta
  • Creamy peanut butter (15-16 oz. jars please)
  • Cans of soup (all varieties and sizes – except no cream soup please)
  • Ramen Noodles
  • Tuna (5 oz. cans please)
  • Any canned meat (Spam, chicken, potted meat, etc.)
  • Rice A Roni (all varieties)
  • Pork ‘n Beans
  • Spaghetti (1 lb. pkg)
  • Spaghetti sauce (cans or jars 24-26 oz.)

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Thank you for helping us feed our city! We appreciate your commitment to following God’s call to help take care of the poor and less fortunate in our community. For more information about our food program or to talk to someone about food drives or other ways you can help, please call 301.739.1165 or email hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

Country Ham Sandwich Sale Starts Now!

It’s that time of year! The air is getting crisp, the leaves are changing and our taste buds are salivating for one thing and one thing only: country ham sandwiches!

Our Ladies’ Auxiliary is hosting their fall country ham sandwich sale from now until October 10th and will be ready for pick-up on October 16th.

Sandwiches are $3 each and proceeds from the sale of the sandwiches help to fund the various programs, ministries and special events at The Hope Center.

To place orders, please call 301.790.3843 or 301.739.1165.

Ham Sandwich Fall

And now that we’re well into fall, that means that Christmas is just around the corner and our Ladies’ Auxiliary is gearing up for their annual Christmas Bazaar fundraiser!

The Auxiliary Christmas Bazaar will be held on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7th from 9am – 2pm in the Trinity Center.

You’ll find great items like decorations, stocking stuffers, crafts, jewelry, quilts, dishes and more. In addition to all the Christmas and holiday items for sale, our ladies will also have their famous lunch stand and bake sale in the Trinity Center too. You can purchase homemade soups, sandwiches, pies, cookies and so many other delicious baked goods.

Mark your calendar now and make our Ladies’ Auxiliary Christmas Bazaar one of your holiday traditions!

Christmas Bazaar

It’s Harvest Time!

Even though summer is coming to an unfortunate end, we can at least celebrate the arrival of the fall harvest!

The local harvest has been good and God has really supplied for us this year. We have had an abundance of produce donated this year including, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, corn, apples, grapes, zucchini, cabbage and lettuce.

Recently we had a large amount of green beans donated. Some of our staff and ladies in our Auxiliary helped to snap the green beans and prepare them for the freezer. These ladies worked from 9am until noon preparing the beans. At the end of it all we had about 20 gallons of green beans placed into our freezers!

All of the fresh produce that was donated will help to feed hundreds to thousands of people in the community throughout the fall and winter. The donation of the fruits and vegetables helps to keep our food costs down and gives us the opportunity to not just feed hungry people but give them good food to improve their overall quality of health.

We are so thankful to everyone who donates food in one way or another. We appreciate having fresh produce and local meats to serve to our residents and guests, and we are so thankful for all the food drives and bags of packaged foods that are given to keep our panty stocked.

We’ve seen an increase in the number of daily lunch guests throughout the summer. As the weather begins to get colder and the economy continues to struggle, our food resources become a vital part of our ministry and an important part of the everyday lives of our neighbors.

Thanks again to everyone who helps to keep The Hope Center stocked and ready to feed anyone in need!