By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
Sitting at a table selling coffee, hot chocolate, and a few snacks, Amsterdam’s Trinity Lutheran Church member Rebecca Butts beamed as she spoke about the church’s youth group.
“There are so many kids (in the community),” she said. “We’re trying to get as many kids in to do something positive.”
Saturday was the Amsterdam Lutheran Youth 2nd Annual Holiday Bazaar at their church and vendors were selling everything from handmade wreaths and holiday cards to jewelry and toys.
All of the profits from the day would go to benefit the youth, a group, that Butts said, has been active at the church for as long as she can remember.
Her mother, Cindy Rivera, was a part of it when she was young and then became a leader herself.
And now Butts’s daughter Sylvia is a part of it.
It has become a tradition passed down in generations, not only in her family, but in others.
As one of the leaders now, along with a few other parents in the church, Butts works to help bring positive engagement to the 15 students involved.
“We try to do a fundraiser every month,” she said, adding that they end up holding anything from dinners to the bazaar.
And all of the money goes right to faith development for the kids.
During the summers, they head to Vanderkamp Center, in Cleveland, New York, for a week-long Christian retreat, and at another time during the year they head to New Jersey Quake, a worship experience with youth from across the state.
“It’s about having faith and learning,” said another youth group leader Cindy Dutcher. “(They will) be worshipping and singing with hundreds of other kids.”
But the funds raised don’t just go to helping the kids attend youth conferences; it also goes to something that is at the core of their ministry: service.
“They try to come up with ways to help the community,” Dutcher said. “They’re willing to share.”
The students – ranging from fifth-graders to 12th-graders – work at local soup kitchens, donate and help out at the Comfort Zone Ministries, and do caroling in the holiday season.
And to recognize global issues, the students raise funds to donate to ELCS Good Gifts to support buying a cow or other animal for a family in need and have sponsored a child in Columbia, both in response to world hunger.
The students even do a 30-hour famine at the church to experience what it is like to have an empty stomach.
Butts’ daughter, 15-year-old Sylvia Rivera, an active member of the youth group who was helping out at the bazaar Saturday morning, said that during those 30-hours they play games to take their minds off of their hunger, but they know they will get a meal at the end.
Many of those who hunger do not, she added.
“We just enjoy helping a lot,” Rivera said. “We love to learn news things that we can share with people at school.”
“We just love the youth group. It’s fun. It gives us something to look forward to.”
Dutcher said that in the end, the youth group is just about getting the kids involved.
“We’re hoping that it shows them to be part of their community and to give,” she said.
The holiday bazaar continues through 2 p.m. Saturday, with all of the profit going to benefit the Amsterdam Lutheran Youth and their mission to serve the local and global communities.