Posts Tagged 'Institutional Ministries'

Birthday Party Hosts Needed

I was just talking with my co-worker, Mary Tomlinson, and she said that we needed a church/church group to host a birthday party at the Polk County Youth Services shelter.  Here is a document that outlines what is needed for that.  If you are interested in putting together a group for this month or in the future (or have questions) you can let me know by calling 321-5077 or e-mailing me at  You can also contact Mary directly at 321-7557 or


Thursday Nights

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Every Thursday night we hold Bible discussion groups at the PCYS Detention Center at 7:00pm.  The leaders meet at 6:45pm to pray and then usually stays around afterwards to talk with the kids individually.  Our leaders (from Left to Right): Scott A. Vander Hart (from Adelphi Calvary Baptist Church), Rich Thomson (from Hope Lutheran Church), Sy Chanthavong (from Asian Church of the Open Bible), and Shane Vander Hart (from Valley Church and on SOY’s staff).  Not pictured: Craig Quick (from Adelphi Calvary Baptist Church).  Interested in joining them?  Contact Shane to find out how.

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Christmas Progress

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Yesterday gift cards were delivered to Youth Homes of Mid-America.  We originally planned to provide Wal-Mart and McDonald’s gift cards for 12 residents.  We learned that they were going to have 14 residents (which is unusual for them).  Fortunately due to the generosity of people like you we were given an extra Wal-Mart card which the amount needed for two individual cards, and we also were given extra McDonald’s gift cards as well.  Praise God.  Chrys Bitting, the clinical treatment director (pictured above), who received the cards shared that the kids get so excited and are so thankful when people think of them over Christmas.  They always send thank-you cards to us, and we’ll look forward to sharing those later on.

We shared the progress made with the PCYS shelter in an earlier post, but SOY 010wanted to give a visual update now that most of the gifts are in.  The shelter conference room has been taken over.SOY 011




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Christmas Needs 2007

Every year we get a list of the Christmas needs from some of the facilities that we work in.  We wanted to share what the needs are for this coming Christmas.  This is a simple way for the body of Christ to show His love to kids who are less fortunate.

If you have any questions regarding this list please feel free to e-mail Shane at or give him a call at (515) 321-5077.  Also we would like to request that if you decide to help out to let him know which facility and how you plan to help.  This will help prevent much duplication.  Thanks!

The List:

Detention Center:

  • 33 Gift bags – gender neutral: 1 toothbrush, 1 toothpaste, 1 non-aerosol deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, candy or treat, 1 word search book, 1 Koosh ball, 1 lip balm. (Size small to medium for personal care items.)

  • Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul books

  • Personal headset radios, and pre paid-phone cards for the wings

Transitional Shelter:

  • Gift cards from K-Mart, Target, Wal-Mart are especially helpful for us to shop for specific needs

  • 20 hand held games (1 for each youth)

  • 10 models and non-toxic glue (for boy gifts)

  • 20 bath sets—soap/lotion etc. (boys as well as girls really like these)

  • 10 games

  • 10 craft kits

  • 20 lip balm (stocking stuffers)

  • 20 decks of cards (stocking stuffers)

  • 20 flannel pj bottoms, 20 hoodies or fleece tops, slippers, robes

  • 20 personal water bottles, 20 plastic soap boxes

  • Candy for stockings

  • Toys (for younger youth)

  • Radios: plug in

Video sport or education games for youth as a group, rated E (Everyone)

  • Koosh balls, nerf balls

  • Jewelry, soft slipper socks (girls)

  • Large duffle bags or suitcases

Youth Homes of Mid-America:

  • 12 $5 McDonalds gift certificates

  • 12 $20 Wal-Mart gift certificates

Christmas (and Year Round) Needs:

Personal Care Items: soap, shampoo, conditioner, non-aerosol deodorant, shaving cream/gel, dual-blade razors, hair ties (plain and colored packets), cologne (boys and girls), body wash, plastic soap boxes, body lotion, manicure/pedicure supplies, bath sets, hairbrushes, **hair products and brushes for African American youth. (Size medium personal care items.)

Craft/Art Supplies: coloring books, fuzzy (velvet) art posters or sheets, sketch books, colored pencils, crayons, markers, glue, glitter, drawing paper, construction paper, etc.


Clothing Items: socks, plain T-shirts, female bikini underwear (sizes 5 to 10), male underwear (colored boxers only – sizes 30 & up), bras (various sizes), scarves, gloves, hats, sweatshirts (plain-no writing, M, L, XL, XXL), hoodies, fleece tops, men’s belts, pajamas, slippers, robes, swimsuits – all for male and female. The kids go swimming at the YMCA every Friday night all year. We always need swim suits.

Recreational Equipment: Legos, games (Chess, Sorry, Risk, Life, Checkers, Janga, Boggle, Cribbage, Scene It Jr., Scene It Disney, Scene It (sports version), bingo, etc.), dominoes, UNO cards, card games i.e. Phase 10 and Skip Bo, model cars (to put together and then paint—a big hit), Matchbox cars, small room/personal-size basketball hoop set, hackey sacks, finger boards (toy), koosh balls, word-search books

Miscellaneous: No expiration date, pre-paid phone cards for youths whose families are not in the 515 area code. We like to keep them on the wing so they’re available to those who need them. Please do not wrap gifts. The staff looks at everything in order to make appropriate selections for the kids. Gift bags are appreciated!

Note: It’s helpful to us if you leave the price tags on so we can account for the donation.

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Go God!

By Shane Vander Hart 

Hey I thought I would share some praises from since last Wednesday.

  • I had the honor of leading a young lady to Christ after our Thursday evening Bible discussion groups at Polk County Youth Services’ Detention Center.
  • Bernie, Mary and I represented SOY at Valley Church’s Cool, Car & Bike Show who had us as the beneficiary of proceeds raised. That was the first time they made that event a fundraiser and we are thankful they chose us. We had our display set up and had a chance to meet some new people.
  • We have a new Bible discussion group leader starting for the Delta Company group at Woodward Academy on Sunday. Pretty soon I’ll be able to hand that group off to Randy Holl who is a member of Perry Bible Church (Perry, IA) to be able to move on to other things (like start new groups).
  • Six young men in that Sunday evening group trusted Christ for the first time as well.
  • Then last night I participated in a birthday party at the Polk County Youth Services’ Youth Shelter with a Bible study group consisting of people from Crossroads Church, Fellowship Bible Church, and Valley Church. It was a great evening, and I know the kids there look forward to it.

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Shelter Picnic at Big Creek State Park

A group from Meredith Drive Reformed Church hosted youth from the Polk County Youth Services’ Shelter for a picnic at Big Creek State Park near Polk City. They enjoyed a pontoon boat ride, ladder golf, Frisbee, scavenger hunt, BBQ and more on July 14th. Three SOY staff were able to join the group from MDRC at this event – Bernie Van Roekel (Executive Director), Mary Tomlinson (Des Moines Volunteer Coordinator), and Shane Vander Hart (Director of Ministries & Volunteer Development).

Thanks for Your Service David!

By Shane Vander Hart 

I wanted to take time to express my appreciation for the commitment that David Harris has demonstrated to the kids at Polk County Youth Services.David had been looking for a teaching position and just received an offer to teach up at the State Training School (State Correctional Facility for Boys) in Eldora, IA. His wife, Linda, will be teaching at an elementary school in Marshalltown, IA (which for a useless piece of trivia is where yours truly was born) where they will be moving.

For those of you who do not live in Iowa or are not that familiar with our great state. Eldora is 90 minutes from Des Moines and Marshalltown is 45 minutes away – so even as dedicated as David is 90 minutes after work on Thursday to travel down to Des Moines and then 45 minutes back home so he can continue on as a Bible discussion group leader just wouldn’t work. We praise God for this new chapter in his life, but he will also be sorely missed.

I just looked to see when he started volunteering with us – 9/21/03. Almost four years of service to the kids at Polk County Youth Services. Time sure flies. Thank you David, and we are excited that you will have a chance to serve juvenile offenders in a different and significant way in Eldora.

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