Christmas in August at CYT Richmond!

Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is an outreach opportunity available through Samaritan’s Purse Ministries that allows kids of all ages the opportunity to tangibly reach around the world.

It’s a chance to say, “Jesus loves you and I care about you” by sending a shoebox that’s filled with Christmas gifts to an otherwise unreached needy child. It’s a chance to stop and consider the blessings of God in your own life and pause in thankful reflection. It’s a chance to serve as a CYT family and also a chance to throw an early Christmas party!

CYT Richmond has taken OCC to our overnight teen camp on two separate occasions and created a wonderful ‘Christmas in August’ event. I’ll just share the highlights from this past summer as the 50+ plastic bins (shoeboxes) currently fill the front lobby desk of our office and its impact is fresh on my mind.

All you need in order to have an Operation Christmas Child service project is the supplies list (found on the Samaritan’s Purse website), Christmas music, boxes to fill (we use $1.00 shoebox sized plastic bins from Walmart), a variety of homemade Christmas cookies (thank you, CYT moms!) and a couple gallons of milk! Oh yeah, and 75 excited teenagers ready to join in on the fun! Of course, the number of teens is only a suggestion…

Our initial goal was to fill 40 boxes. Please keep in mind that Samaritan’s Purse asks for a minimum of $7.00 to be sent for EACH box you fill in order to cover the shipping costs. We plan to raise the shipping money through loose change competitions in the green room during our FALL shows. 40 boxes seemed doable for us.

Wanting to be sure we had what was needed/suggested to fill the bins, my sister and I spent a few hours at Walmart and Target buying ‘forty of this’ and ‘forty of that’. Our shopping list included: toothbrush/paste re-sealable pouches, large plastic cups (for washing or drinking), washcloths, bar soap, Crayola crayons, notepads, pens/pencils, a variety of different toys, socks, hard-candy, etc. We use a portion of our teen camp budget to cover the cost of this activity/service project and also ask the kids to bring supplies to use as well. Plus we add all the extra souvenir items that are leftover from the shows—just a thought on how to come up with some extra toys with sentimental meaning to the CYT teens!

Ok…jump to teen camp.

We’ve got a big room, Christmas decorations and about an hour and a half to get everything ready to host our outreach event. We set up about 3 long tables and FILLED them with supplies (separated by category and gender appropriateness). Imagine the fullest souvenir table you’ve ever seen from a CYT show and you’ll start to get the picture! Then we blew up our trusty inflatable Christmas tree (the best purchase ever made from Oriental Trading), hung strands of lights everywhere, lit candles, set up the cookies/milk tables, cranked the Christmas music and labeled 2 tables each with each team color. Our staff was even dressed in Christmas costumes—with a special appearance from Buddy the Elf!

When the teens arrived we sang some crazy carols and danced around for a little while. Next on the agenda was the cookie tasting and milk guzzling! The campers divided into their teams and found their labeled table. We had already shared the heart behind this project so they knew the reasoning behind what they were doing and the global impact we were making that evening. There was construction paper and markers on all the tables so they could make Christmas cards to accompany their gifts. Each team was instructed to fill 6 boxes. We instructed them on what elements from our ‘souvenir table’ were required items to include but also gave them a lot of freedom to make the box uniquely created by them.

When it was all said and done we had filled over 50 boxes (more than the 40 that we planned!) and had a wonderful time. The evening ended with the singing of traditional Christmas songs (w/piano accompaniment), and an amazing group photo to include in the boxes! Christmas is one of those special days that is worth celebrating twice a year and we’d encourage you to plan this event for your local CYT!

Contributed by Joy Osborne, CYT Richmond Staff

CYT Denver’s Show Director Talks Scrooge

The Denver Post published an article this week about CYT Denver’s upcoming production of Scrooge.

The article said CYT Denver is returning to Parker’s “century-old Mainstreet Center with its theatrical production of Scrooge” while “kicking off the holiday season with a festive blend of Halloween intrigue and Christmas merriment.”

Show Director Tara Hedburg was also interviewed. Here’s what she had to say:

“I love being part of CYT because it really is a family effort….It’s exciting to watch the production evolve as the kids and their parents work together to make it all happen.”

Read the complete article, here: CYT Denver Presents Scrooge, The Musical at Historic Mainstreet Center.

Founder’s Corner: A Positive Attitude During Hard Times

I’m once again reading the Book of Acts and once again I’m encouraged by Paul the Apostle’s attitude during difficult times.

In fact, he not only has a positive attitude during hard times he almost expects and looks forward to them. Come on, really! In Act Chapter 14, Paul gets beaten and left for dead. He gets up and goes back to the same people who beat the crud out of him. Seriously! Then he heads to the next town and preaches the same good news to the next town. Instead of complaining he encourages the new believers and tells them that “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of heaven,” -v.22.

I find that crazy, a bit stupid and absolutely wonderful. Here I am worrying about enrollment numbers, ticket sales and having a difficult time finding class locations. Are you kidding me! Get use to it! Doing children’s theater is certainly not easy but it is a far cry from starting a new religion.

Be encouraged. God has some amazing days ahead for CYT. I know that God is going to use CYT in ways that we never imagined. As Paul the Apostle quotes Habakkuk, “For I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you!”

Contributed by Paul Russell

CYT VanPort Testimonials: Why I love CYT

CYT Vancouver/Portland posed this question on their Facebook page recently: “Why do you love CYT?”

We fell in love with the answers that were posted and wanted to share them with you, here:

“The teaching of responsibility at such a young age (make up, knowing cues, etc) and the positive influence of the older teens toward the younger kids.” -Angel Brunell Reuther

“The community, it’s authenticity, it’s traditions, and it’s values.” -Ethan Morrow

“It’s where I got confidence in my singing skills! -Emma Lindley

“Creating art and beauty in a God-fearing, God-honoring environment.” -Caleb Schlamp

“It nourishes my spirit and it’s a great place for families, not just kids!” -Cathy Carlson Fontaine

Introducing…CYT San Diego’s New Artistic Director!

Paul Russell has some breaking “CYT” news that he would like to share with the CYT Community! Here is his heartfelt letter:

Hello CYT Extended Family,

I am so excited to let you know that I have stepped into a new role here at CYT. From here on out, I’ll be serving as President of CYT Inc.

You are probably wondering what the heck this means. Not only will I be more involved with CYT on a National scale, but I will be focused on training, development, creating new resources, and improving CYT to make it the best it can possibly be!

Taking on this new position means that I had the honor of passing along the CYT San Diego Artistic Director baton to Janie Russell Cox. Janie has always shined brilliantly- her love for the kids is eternal, and she will continue to strengthen the core of the program.

Please continue to pray for CYT San Diego and CYT as a whole, as we continue to spread our mission around the WORLD.

Thank you,

Paul Russell

CYT West Palm Beach Makes Headlines

One of our newest Affiliates- CYT West Palm Beach- has recently made media impact, in print and on TV.

CBS 12 wrote a top story today about CYT giving West Palm Beach kids a “chance to shine,” saying that, “it’s lights, camera, action on stage at the new Christian Youth Theater in South Florida.”

Here is what Artistic Director, Rachel Sharpe, revealed about the program:

“Christian Youth Theater is a nationwide organization that has been around for over 30 years with branches across the United States. We are the very 1st affiliate in Florida. CYT just launched, and its very exciting. We offer after school classes, theatre, voice, dance for ages 4-18 at the end of each 10 week session class gets to perform a showcase production.”

Board Members Bill McCowen and Patrick Moody also chimed in with their excitement for the future:

“[CYT is] a place for children to grow, discover themselves,” said McCowen.

“[CYT] offers a healthy environment to learn the craft,” said Moody.

You can read the complete story- and watch the video- here: New West Palm Beach theater gives kids a chance to shine.