This is a guest post by Allie Smith Klopenstein. Allie is the Pastor of Children’s Ministry at Lawrence Free Methodist church. You can connect with Allie on Facebook here.
As my children’s ministry entered 2016, I wanted to introduce tithes and offerings into my large group worship on Sundays. But I did not want to simply pass around an offering basket. I wanted to do something a bit different.
I started seeing the idea of an “offering robot” pop up in a couple different children’s ministry Facebook groups. Ryan Frank even mentioned it at the Children’s Pastor’s Conference as a trending topic in his Facebook group. What is an offering robot? It is a shop-vac decorated and then used to collect offering in a fun way. The pictures of the robots were amazing. I decided to take on the task of creating my own offering robot.
Deciding on the Design: This is the hard part. You must decide what you want the robot to look like. Do you want it to be furry? What color do you want it? Perhaps you want to conceal the shop vac in a box. Try to come up with a design before you do anything else. Stumped? Google “cute robots” or “cute monsters” for some design ideas.
Gathering Supplies: Once you have a design in mind, make a list of the supplies you will need. Depending on where you live, you may need to order some supplies online. For my robot, I wanted it to be furry. I learned that the “faux fur” is called “Mongolian long pile.” I also learned that my local fabric store did not keep the fun colors of the fur in stock outside of the Halloween season. I had to find a source online, which delayed things a bit.
I used a 6-gallon shop-vac. I know some people using smaller shop-vacs have reported issues with paper money getting stuck. The 6-gallon vacuum is light and sucks up paper money without any trouble.
The felt for accent pieces, paint, and glue was all purchased at a craft store.
Prepping the Machine: I wanted the top of the machine as well as the hose to match the color of the fur. I painted it using a spray paint that has primer in it. This is important. If you spray paint any part of the shop-vac, you will need to either prime it first or use a spray paint that includes primer. I also wanted the hose to be shorter so I cut it prior to painting it. That is something to consider as you prep the vacuum.
Gluing the Fur: I measured the base of the shop-vac and cut out enough fur to cover it. A section at a time, I covered the base of the shop-vac with tacky glue and secured the fur. For these larger areas, the tacky glue is easier to use. On the top of the shop-vac, I used hot glue. I used smaller pieces of the fur to work around the vents.
Creating Accent Pieces: I sketched out 2 arms on felt and cut them out. I sewed them by hand and stuffed them with fiberfill. I glued them each onto the handles of the shop-vac lid. I then camouflaged the glue with a strip of fur on each handle.
The eyes are made of felt. I used a big white oval, a smaller blue oval, and a smaller black pupil. I made black eye lids to make the eyes seem friendlier. I secured the eyes into place with hot glue. I put a little dot of white paint on each black pupil to accent the eyes.
The mouth is also made with felt. I made a black mouth and a small red apple shape tongue. I hot glued that into place below the hose.
How it Works: When it’s time to collect offering, I reminded the children that in the same way we worship God with our songs, we show God that we love him with our offerings. And we should give with happy hearts! With willing hearts! Because God loves a cheerful giver! The kids came forward and eagerly gave their offering. The offering robot was a fun addition!
On that first Sunday, the offering robot collected $100.35. Our kids are happily giving this money towards the purchase of Recovery Bibles that will be given to many women who attend church services from a rehab facility across the street. As one child said, “If they are going to make good choices in their life now, they are going to need a Bible.”
Author: Allie Smith-Klopenstein – Pastor of Children’s Ministry at Lawrence Free Methodist Church in Lawrence, Kansas.
You can connect with Allie through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions: What creative things are you doing to teach your kids about giving?