News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

Jordan Holland and fellow sixth-graders at Decatur Heritage Christian Academy raised about $350 for the Neighborhood Christian Center after putting the Parable of the Talents into practice. Jordan led by bringing in $58.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Jordan Holland and fellow sixth-graders at Decatur Heritage Christian Academy raised about $350 for the Neighborhood Christian Center after putting the Parable of the Talents into practice. Jordan led by bringing in $58.

Profiting from
a Parable

Decatur Heritage sixth-graders use talents to multiply $1 investments tenfold

By Melanie B. Smith 340-2468

Peggy Webb had an inspiration as she taught a sixth-grade Bible class at Decatur Heritage Christian Academy.

When she shared her idea for a project and heard them beg, "Could we, could we?" she realized she was smack in the midst of a teachable moment.

Students used their talents to make comic strips, cards, bracelets, chenille critters and cartoon characters.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Students used their talents to make comic strips, cards, bracelets, chenille critters and cartoon characters.
Her idea spurred 38 youths to turn $1 each into about $350 to donate to a Christian ministry. They wrote stories, created a Web page, made bracelets, drew comics, ironed, cleaned and baked to make money.

Webb was teaching the Parable of the Talents, as Jesus' story in Matthew 25 is known.

The parable tells of three servants whose master gives them "talents" — units of money in the ancient Middle East — according to their ability.

When the master returns after a long trip, two servants have doubled their master's investments. The third, though, returns only what the master originally gave. The wise servants hear the master's praise. The third servant hears condemnation for his poor stewardship and sees his talent given to the one with the most.

Webb said as she talked with students about the verses, she remembered that her church, Westminster Presbyterian, had once given families $40 each and encouraged them to use it as seed money to make profits for a church project.

Webb said her students, ages 10, 11 and 12, immediately liked the idea and wanted to try it. They "got" the message of the verses, she said.

"I learned that you should use your talents to glorify God," said Kayly Nielsen during a class interview Wednesday.

Cierra Doughty said the parable taught her that people can discover talents and explore new things.

The students started with $1 each, sent by their parents, and set $200 as a class goal, Webb said. She gave some suggestions, such as buying cleaner and washing windows or buying dough and making cookies to sell.

Webb said in addition to making a Bible lesson real, she hoped the activity would teach how someone can take almost nothing and make something with it.

The pupils quickly went to work.

Several did bake cookies or brownies, buying a mix, selling the product and buying ingredients for more cookies to sell. Susie Barriault, Christina Cook and Macy Ladner sold their cookies at a front-yard stand, making $15.

Cody Shaw and Blake Bromfield "paid" the $1 to one of their mothers, who made no-bake cookies, which they sold to students and teachers.

Some students borrowed extra money for supplies from relatives and paid back loans from proceeds. Will Shelton did that to make a snack mix of peanuts and caramel corn. He sold bags for 50 cents and 75 cents each. His net was just over $56.

Jack Francis shelled peas and helped his grandmother with Thanksgiving dinner, earning $12.

Anna McWhorter and Kayly made pipe cleaner creatures, selling them for 25 cents each. They also took orders for personalized greeting cards that they created from a computer program. They brought in between $7 and $8.

Gabriell Jeffreys bought spray starch and ironed clothes for her parents. With what she earned, she bought yarn and created bracelets, key rings and rings. She sold them and earned $11 or $12.

Anna Holdbrooks and Blythe Bowman made personalized plastic bracelets, netting $36.

Tillman Hurst earned $15 selling cookies door to door with his brother.

Jessica Letson made $5.25 selling stickers she printed with a computer.

Max McBride bought cleaner and shined up his parents' bathroom, even doing the toilet, he said. He gave the $5 he earned to his mother to invest in the stock market. By the time the money was due, he had between $7 and $8, he said.

Washing cars and dogs was Whitney Lowery's plan. Her $1 went to soap and a sponge, and she earned between $7 and $8.

Several students marketed their artwork and writing. Phillip Sasser created comic books. He said he came up with the jokes and did the artwork. With Zachary Ellsworth as his "sales executive," he made $15.

Matthew Sasser wrote stories and took orders for copies on a Web site,
super-oreo. He and helper Jordan Holland said they had more than 100 visitors to the site. Sasser's stories feature an Oreo cookie that rolls out of a bag at night to save Wal-Mart from Chips Ahoy Man. His original work brought in $7.50.

Jordan made the most money, about $58. He said he bought lemons and made lemonade with his mother's help. He sold it at a stand near the seventh hole of Cedar Ridge Golf Course. He also did chores around his house, he said.

The students said they won't forget how they worked together to earn so much and how pleased the directors of the Neighborhood Christian Center were when presented with the money. Abrey Holmes said she learned how good it was to help people with less than she and her classmates have.

"I'll remember what they said, that we were such a blessing to help the people," said Ryan Runager, who sold his grandmother's cookies to earn $15.50.

Pamela Bolding, co-director with her husband of the Neighborhood Christian Center in Decatur, said when Webb invited them to come in early December to accept a class donation, she didn't explain where the money came from. When they arrived, the Boldings heard students read the parable and tell how they multiplied their dollars.

"It was a neat experience listening to what all they had done," Bolding said.

She said the exercise was a great tool to help children use their talents for God and to teach a life lesson about work and finances.

The money went into the NCC's ministry budget, providing things like Christmas food boxes, toys for children and snacks for a TRUTH Seekers Club at the Third Street Boys and Girls Club, Bolding said.

Webb said she was struck by just how much ability her sixth-graders have and what a witness they could be.

"I could not ask for a better group of students to work with," Webb said.

Other students involved were Jessie Johns, Brentlyn Harriman, William Sasser, Andrew Sasser, Tyde Coffey, Ryan Davila, Drew Hodge, Elise Johnson, Cory Roden, Morgan Cooper, Patrick Cooper, Lee Godwin, Madison Peterson, Sarah Taylor and Amanda Turner.

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