Church’s new playground ‘ark’ inspires pantry gifts

A young member of Salem UMC Benton holds a can of food that helped “fill the Ark” as a missional way to celebrate the church’s new playset. COURTESY PHOTO

A young member of Salem UMC Benton holds a can of food that helped “fill the Ark” as a missional way to celebrate the church’s new playset.
COURTESY PHOTO

A new piece of playground equipment is bringing joy to children, and it also has helped provide for the church’s neighbors.

Several years ago, a severe storm uprooted a tree that fell on part of the playground at Salem United Methodist Church Benton, damaging the equipment. In February, the church unveiled a new addition to their playground: a playset built to resemble Noah’s Ark. “Not only did our congregation and kids raise the money for it, it was built by hand by our church members,” said Russell Powell, co-director of children’s and youth ministries. “Several members of the church volunteered their free time and talents to give to the children of our church and community.”

On ribbon cutting day, the children of the church wanted to see how many canned foods it would take to fill up the Ark, so they helped sponsor a church-wide canned food drive to celebrate the opening of their new playset. The result: more than 800 cans of food for a local food pantry.

—submitted by Rachel Powell