Okay. So you have your Vacation Bible School crafts budget all worked out…
And you have even worked out a rather detailed Vacation Bible School crafts supplies shopping list for all of the things you are going to need in order to make your plan happen.
Now, it is time to start gathering the goodies!
There are basically three ways that your Vacation Bible School crafts supplies are going to be supplied: donations, secondhand deals, and new purchases. Of course, each of these may include any number of actual people or stores that will need to be contacted and/or visited.
Make no mistake: this is going to be a pretty big job, but we will take it one step at a time, just like all the other steps in the process. The most logical way for us to consider this is chronologically, so that is what we are going to do.
Consider the “other” category
As you look at your Vacation Bible School crafts supplies list, you will first pay special attention to the things that you have listed in your “other” category. Remember, these are the things that do not have to be purchased new. When you wrote out this part of your Vacation Bible School crafts supplies list, you were thinking along the lines of: recycling, thrift stores, yard sales, church members’ attics, et cetera.
Obviously, since you never know when or where these things will actually show up, you need to allow some time to gather them. It will be extremely helpful if you have a summer in that time frame. This is because summer is prime-time for yard sales.
If your Vacation Bible School is in early summer, then that will mean you should be thinking nearly a year ahead. If your Vacation Bible School is later in the summer, then you have a bit more leeway; and spending some time yard-sale-hopping two or three months before Vacation Bible School could work.
A list for sharing
But let’s back up just a little bit. When you first have your Vacation Bible School crafts supplies shopping list prepared, put the word out that you are looking for the items in your “other” list. Actually write or type up a neat list of those items and label it something like, “Vacation Bible School needs your help!” Below, you might write, “Here are some things you could contribute:”. Then list all the items from the “other” list.
It can be helpful to organize similar items together. For example, list all the sewing-type supplies; then all the woodworking items; then all the recyclables.
You could casually mention some of the items on your list to neighbors who have shown an interest in your Vacation Bible School endeavors. If they want to know more, you could offer them a copy of your list.
Definitely print up enough lists to distribute to all the families that regularly attend your church. Include the list as an insert to your church bulletin or as part of the church newsletter–but do not rely solely on the printed announcement!
If your church has an announcement time, make an enthusiastic call for people’s help with the Vacation Bible School crafts supplies, reminding them of the purpose of all this: leading precious children to Jesus!
Talk to people one-on-one, as well. Sometimes people will falsely assume that the call up front or in the bulletin was not addressed to them personally. By a personal appeal, they will know that you would love to have their help, too!
As people start coming to you with donations of Vacation Bible School crafts supplies, always thank them–and thank God.
Also acknowledge the donations in public.
However you first make the appeal, you will want to do the same in thanksgiving. Even if you have only received a few things, say “We appreciate all that has been contributed for the children’s Vacation Bible School so far…It is not too late for you to help, too! As of right now, we still need [fill in the blank].”
Meanwhile, we get back to the yard sale idea. The same goes for thrift stores. Find your favorite secondhand places in your area and visit them from time to time. Always have your Vacation Bible School crafts supplies list with you. Since you are keeping track of the things that are being donated, you also have an idea of what you are still lacking. Watch out for those things.
You will have to be careful not to stray from your list to avoid going over your Vacation Bible School crafts budget in the end. On occasion, though, you may find an item that will make a good substitute for something on your list but at a much lower price than you anticipated. Go ahead and make the trade-off. Purchase the treasure, and cross the original item off your list!
Getting the final items
About two months before Vacation Bible School, the leisurely shopping and gathering will be about over. It will be time to get serious about finding the final items on your list. If you are still lacking any of the recyclables that you need, make another specific appeal to your church family for them.
At this time, also, start mentioning the new items that you will be needing, if you would like. Sometimes, somebody will volunteer to purchase a particular item that just sounds fun or interesting to them.
You will then need to purchase anything that is left. Re-evaluate the state of your Vacation Bible School crafts budget. Add up the estimated prices of all the items that still remain to be purchased and compare them with the amount of money left in your spending allowance.
The outlook should be more positive at this point, since many items will have been donated and crossed off, along with their planned costs.
If, however, you find that somehow your planning is not matching up with reality as well as expected, this is the time to pray for direction again and start making some cuts. Depending on how serious the difference is, you may only need to simplify some project or you may have to totally rearrange something.
There is no question that God can and will lead even now.
You could also re-write what is left of your Vacation Bible School crafts supplies list as you do this, making sections for each store you plan to shop at. At least, make a mental note to yourself of which store will likely carry the bulk of the items on your list and for the best prices.
When you are happy with your re-evaluated Vacation Bible School crafts supplies list, head out for the stores. Start at the store that you expect to carry the most items from your list at the best prices. Work your way through your list, always comparing the price of what you are buying with what you have written on your list.
When working with a very close budget, it can be helpful to keep a tally of the money you are able to cut from your planned prices. For example, if you planned $5.00 for glue, and you are picking it up for $4.50; make a note that you have saved $0.50. As you add up the nickels and dimes you save, somewhere down the line it might just make all the difference when you planned for a $6.00 pine board, for example, that ends up actually costing $7.00. You will know by your tally that you have managed to cut $1.00 elsewhere and so can afford to pay the extra $1.00 on this item.
While you are in the stores, you can also note how much the items that still remain on your “other” list will cost if you end up having to buy them new.
One last round before Vacation Bible School
When all of your new Vacation Bible School crafts supplies are purchased, you can do a final round of deal-hunting at thrift stores and, if necessary, make a final appeal to the congregation for donations. You never know–someone who has somehow missed the other calls may have just that item you have been having a hard time finding.
So, through prayer, seeking donations, bargain-hunting, and “plain, old” shopping, your hard work will have paid off.
All that will remain then is to put your Vacation Bible School crafts plan into action. When it is all over, consider how it all went as part of your after-VBS evaluation.
His promises are sure!
The Lord has promised to supply all of our needs. In the end, you can rest in confidence that He will provide all that is necessary to the success of your Vacation Bible School. You can also rest assured that if He sees fit for some item not to be supplied, He will give you wisdom in how to share His love with the children in spite of the apparent lack!
May our motto always be, “To God be the glory!” even in the planning of our Vacation Bible School crafts time!