The Primary Sabbath school class of the Bismarck Adventist Church “took their book learning and walked it around town,” states their teacher, Laurie Foerderer. The 10-member class of 7-9-year-olds studies concepts such as empathy and forgiveness. “But how do they take forgiveness and relate it to the bully on the school playground?” wondered Foerderer.

Her answer was for the class to graduate from mere classroom instruction and become missionaries among their neighbors. She asked them to consider what they could do to help in the community. Foederer researched different options in the Bismarck/Mandan area and discussed each with the class. “I wanted them to have an intrinsic mindset,” said Foederer. “So I asked how they would feel in specific settings or if certain things happened to them.”

One situation they discussed was that of a gentleman who had recently started attending church. He had lost his wife in a car accident while they were far from home. He and his daughter had nowhere to stay while his wife was hospitalized. Foederer explained how the man had taken his sad energy and directed it toward creating Tracy’s Sanctuary, a place for people to stay while loved ones were hospitalized in Bismarck.

The children decided to host a fundraiser for Tracy’s Sanctuary and invite the community to a musical program and art auction at the church one Sunday in April. Foerderer, an art teacher at Century High School, made Tracy’s Sanctuary Benefit posters and advertised in the local paper. She also invited the Primaries to her school classroom to paint pictures they had sketched for auctioning. When they arrived, one youngster said through tears, “All I know how to do is color with crayons. I do not know how to paint.” Foerderer later remarked, “It was pivotal for me to see her fear and realize that what comes so naturally to me may be fearful to another person. Her picture turned out beautifully.”

Linda Oswald volunteered to find musicians. Two parents, Jessica Irelan and Lonna Quast, offered to assist in organizing the event. Foerderer was relieved to have their help since the fundraiser was close to the end of the teaching year—always a busy time.

Pastor Odea Sigh welcomed attendees to the benefit. During a break among the 12 spiritual songs, Bruce Rittel told the story behind his development of Tracy’s Sanctuary, which opened in 2005. The Primary class, as a choir, sang the final song.

Their paintings sold for $200. Along with a freewill offering of $1,300, the total donated to Tracy’s Sanctuary will provide 30 nights of lodging for families who need a place to rest while loved ones are hospitalized.

Jacquie Bilof is communication director for the Dakota Conference.

Photo courtesy of Kelsey Zottnick/Tracy’s Sanctuary