Kids Share God’s Gifts

Annual contest was a show-and-tell about how kids share with others what they’ve been given.

How are you using the gifts God has given you (time, talents and treasures) to help others around you?

That was the question we posed for our 7th annual Kids Contest. Children from preschool through high school shared their answers. There were prizes at stake—up to three $100 awards were given for each medium in each age category.

A panel of judges made up of Thrivent employees pored over all the entries to determine the winners. That process made us realize that we were winners, too, because the heartfelt essays and drawings the kids submitted in response to the question warmed our hearts and inspired us.

Following are the winning entries. Keep in mind that what you see here is exactly what was submitted, including grammar and spelling slip-ups.

  • Pre-K/Kindergarten

    Drawing: I Can Help My Friends at SchoolI Can Help My Friends at School (Link opens in new window)

    Alexandra M., 5 | Chaska, Minnesota

    In this picture, I am sharing some food and toys with my friend who doesn’t have any. I am also pulling out my teacher’s chair to help her sit down. My other teacher is smiling because I told her a joke to make her happy. I love helping my teachers and friends at school.

    Drawing: Serving My GrandmaServing My Grandma (Link opens in new window)

    Nathan R., 5 | Seward, Nebraska

    This is a picture of Nathan and his great grandma. He is raking leaves for her in her yard. Whenever he visits his grandma, he loves to help her with her yard work.

    Drawing: I Fly to RwandaI Fly to Rwanda (Link opens in new window)

    Linnea Marais H., 3 | San Francisco, California

    Linnea can’t write, but she carefully copied these letters, after asking her family how to spell “I fly to Rwanda.” She traveled with her mamma on a service trip to Rwanda in February/March of this year. While Linnea’s mom taught business classes, Linnea found little children all along the way. She shared stickers and smiles, and even wandered inside a mosque while mom was visiting a Lutheran church that was next door. Inside the mosque, she found a little boy her age, traded shoes and sparked conversation among the adults who’ve begun an interfaith initiative to plant trees by their properties ... all because Linnea brought the groups together.

    Essay: Clean Earth

    Hailey B., 6 | Eagan, Minnesota

    When you are going on a walk make sure when you are seeing the trash pick it up so people can enjoy their life. And have a great life. Hopefully they have the best life. I use Gods gift of thinking about the Earth to pick up trash so others can enjoy the Earth.

    Video: Henry’s GiftsHenry's Gifts (Link opens in new window)

    Henry R., 4 | Bemidji, Minnesota

    Henry’s Gifts is a short video of the way he is using his gifts in every day simple ways to serve.

  • Grades 1 – 3

    Drawing: I Like to ServeI Like to Serve (Link opens in new window)

    Aaron R., 8 | Seward, Nebraska

    I drew pictures of ways I like to help and serve people. The cross shows that Jesus loves me, and I like to show His love to others.

    DrawingDrawing (Link opens in new window)

    Natalie R., 6 | Crystal, Minnesota

    The top left picture is me being brave by singing at my school’s talent show. The top right picture is me sharing part of my allowance with the pastor. The bottom right picture is me hugging my friend Feven. The bottom left is me leading worship.

    DrawingDrawing (Link opens in new window)

    Finley C., 7 | Omro, Wisconsin

    I love to sing. My drawing shows me in the Vacation Bible School choir. I will help lead the singing for the 200+ kids who will be attending our VBS.

    Essay: Using God’s Gifts to Help Others

    Mason B., 9 | Eagan, Minnesota

    Using the gifts God has given me; time, energy and open mind, to serve people food. Once every month we put food on a plate to give people warm, healthy food. I like to serve people food who can’t get it. The food helps them. We serve salad, fruit and veggies, all fresh.

    Some people come to the community meals because they have no one to talk to. We talk to them. Talking to them gives them joy.

    I use God’s gifts of time, energy and an open mind to serve meals that make people, who need it, healthier and less lonely in my community.

    Essay: Ways I Do God’s Work

    Naomi O., 8 | Waldo, Wisconsin

    During the school year my class goes to Project Angel Hugs to make cards and crafts for kids with cancer. I always try to use bright colors for my projects because I think it would cheer the sick kids up. I do not like cancer. When I grow up I would like to help heal cancer so that people and mostly kids do not get cancer anymore. Another way I help is at Christmas time I go through my toys and donate what I don't play with anymore to kids who need toys. My mom adopts a family every Christmas. It is a family who doesn't have money and who has kids that may not get toys. I like to help her shop and pick presents out for the family because I am a kid and I know what kind of toys kids like. I like to adopt a family with kids because I don't want kids to be sad at Christmas. I love Jesus and listening to Bible stories and singing songs we learn in church. I love to sing and singing Bible songs makes me happy so when I sing them I hope it makes other people happy. God is a happy and people who listen to me sing should feel happy. These are the ways that I do God's work.

    Essay: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

    Alayna A., 7 | Oceanside, California

    My gift from God is my beautiful long hair. I cut my hair to help others who don’t have hair. I donated my hair to “wigs for kids.”

  • Grades 4 – 6

    Drawing: Your Talent is God’s Gift to You – What You Do With It Is Your Gift to GodYour Talent is God’s Gift to You – What You Do With It Is Your Gift to God (Link opens in new window)

    Brielle D.-W., 11 | Lockhart, Texas

    God gives us different gifts to share with one another in love. I share my time, talents and treasures with others in my daily life through my faith in God.

    Drawing: My Time, Talents and TreasuresMy Time, Talents and Treasures (Link opens in new window)

    Kasen A., 9 | Jackson, Missouri

    I drew a treasure chest to represent all my gifts. On the outside in the thought bubbles I put the ways I help people.

    Drawing: I Can Help With God’s Love!I Can Help With God’s Love! (Link opens in new window)

    Sophia B., 11 | Silver Springs, Florida

    I can use my God given talent of drawing to help people feel better.

    Essay: Hurricane Harvey

    Ian S., 9 | Spring, Texas

    I was able to use my time, talent, and treasure when Hurricane Harvey hit our area last August. It was a Category 4 storm, so some people got many feet of water in their homes. Fortunately, my house did not. That meant that I was able to get out and do things to help.

    I used my treasure by giving offerings that helped storm victims. I also brought in canned food for our school’s Prayer Partner Pantry Chapel.

    I used my time and talent to help my church with helping the victims of the storm. The first few days after Harvey, my church was a shelter. When it was a shelter, I helped to set up beds for people to sleep on and label bags full of clothes for people that needed them. Ever since, my church has been a food pantry two days a week. I think it’s surprising and sad that some people’s lives are still damaged even a year after the storm!

    I have helped at the food pantry a few times doing things like arranging diapers, labeling food, and little jobs like that. It is especially fun to stomp on empty boxes to get them ready for recycling. I also get to put little stickers with Bible verses on bags of food. I hope this helps people remember that Jesus is their Savior and is always with them, even during the hard times.

    I feel good about using my time, talent, and treasure to help people after the storm and showing Jesus’ love by doing these things.

    Essay: The Joy of Serving

    Micah R., 10 | Seward, Nebraska

    In the Bible, Jesus tells us it is important to help others people out. What I think is yes, that is true. I think it is very important to help people who need help. As it says in the Bible, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,” (I Peter 4:10a) God has given me many blessings, and here are some ways that I use them to help other people.

    God has blessed me with the gift of a glad heart. This summer I vontered for the Orphan Grain Train, and it made me feel good to know that I am helping other people. I spent time preparing boxes of clothes to be shipped around the world. It makes my heart glad to know that I am serving others.

    Another blessing God has given me is streangth and health. My great grandma lives alone and she has a big house and can’t take care of her house by herself. Every time we go we spend some time talking and playing, but we also do a lot of yard work for her. Some of the jobs we help her with are pulling weeds, picking up sticks, raking, and shoveling. My favorite job is raking up the leaves. I am so happy that I am able to help my grandma.

    God has also blessed me with the opportunity to have a paper route. Each week I am excited to give some of my money to church, because I know that they use that money to tell others about Jesus. The most important thing you can share with someone is the good news about Jesus.

    I know that it is important to serve others. I’m thankful for the gifts God has given me. I enjoy using God’s blessings he has given me to help others.

    Essay: Using the Gifts God Gave Me

    Alayna G., 11 | Lincoln, Nebraska

    I am using the gifts God gave me which are time, talents, and treasures at my school. My school is very multicultural. We have students with five different languages. When a student from another country came to my classroom, she was very shy and couldn't speak any English. I knew she was very uncomfortable. She started to take a program that helped her learn some English. She didn't have very many friends because people played with her for a day or two and then they left and played with their original friends. So me and my friends stepped in and became her friend. It was a little difficult because she didn't speak English. I talked slowly and used my hands to explain. When she could speak a little bit of English she said “dobar” which means good job in her country. “Thank you so much” I said. Then I would point to something and say what it was.

    Just because she couldn't speak English, doesn't mean she can’t be my friend. I used my time, talent, and treasures in my school. I used my time at recess to teach her English. I used my talents by understanding and communicating without words. My treasures were that I learned some of her language and she learned some of mine. I also got a good friendship out of it. Even though someone is not like you, you can still be their friend.

    Video: Using Time, Talents and TreasuresUsing Time, Talents and Treasures (Link opens in new window)

    Asher A., 9 | Jackson, Missouri

    Asher tells five ways he uses his talent and treasures to help others and shows some of the tools he uses to do so.

    Video: My Sharpie ProjectMy Sharpie Project (Link opens in new window)

    Taya K., 11 | Belle Fourche, South Dakota

    I was challenged by a good friend to do this and while I was doing this I noticed how much people judge and how it makes them feel and I also noticed how much I even judge people. I made this into a slide show and then a you tube video because I wanted to make people notice what they were doing and how it makes others feel. I wanted to let every one know Jesus loves them! All these pictures are unedited and unscripted.

    Video: My TalentMy Talent (Link opens in new window)

    Levi R., 11 | Bemidji, Minnesota

    My Talent is a short video on how Levi uses his gift and joy for fishing to serve others.

  • Grades 7 – 9

    God’s Gift to Noah (Link opens in new window) Drawing: God’s Gift to Noah

    Noah W., 14 | Anna, Texas

    I have always loved art and found myself to be creative. I wanted to find ways that God could use my gift to bless others. I was not always that good at drawing and sometimes other kids would make fun of me but I never gave up. I never realized how talented I was until my mom encouraged me to draw more and not just for myself but also for others. I began volunteering at our church and showing other kids how to draw. Drawing inspired me to test the waters in other ways so I joined the puppet and clown ministry and began sharing my gifts at nursing homes and other community events. Drawing is my first passion but by serving others I have found ways to not only express my gift through drawing but also through creative arts ministry.

    Essay: Little Acts, Big Impacts

    Alea V., 13 | Golden, Illinois

    When I first heard about this competition, I wanted to enter, but didn’t know what to include in my essay. After all, I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary. I am just a regular girl with no talents worth writing about. When I told my family how I felt, they challenged me to recall random acts of kindness I’ve done. These acts didn’t seem like any big deal to me, but as I thought more about it, the more I realized that maybe it was a big deal to the recipient. For example, my pastor’s infant son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. I knew I couldn’t take away the cancer, but I wanted to help ease their burden in any way I could. I organized a bake sale to raise money. I baked brownies, cupcakes, and cookies and gave the profits to my pastor to go toward the medical expenses.

    This was no big deal to me. Their family needed help, and I liked to bake. It wouldn’t make the baby well, but might allow my pastor and his wife to worry less about money.

    I look for little ways to bless people - like giving a hug if someone is hurting, babysitting so parents can have a night out, and other things that don’t require a lot of effort or talent, but might bring a little sunshine into another’s life. Sometimes the simple things mean the most. Little acts can lead to big impacts. The world can be changed by one act of random kindness at a time.

    Essay: The Joy of Giving

    Nina N., 11 | Eden Prairie, Minnesota

    And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16)

    Giving is something that takes practice - we think of our needs and neglect our neighbors. Yet, as Christians, we think about giving in a different way. Everything we have belongs to God, so that frees us to give to our neighbor. Nothing really belongs to us, so when we give our time, talents, or treasure, we aren’t losing anything!

    I remember an instance in confirmation, when my pastor told me and the other confirmands to reach under our chairs. It turns out that three kids had an envelope of money under their seats! Without any prompting from my pastor, each kid offered some money to those who didn’t have an envelope!

    As a homeschooler, God gives me the time to help my church during weekdays. I’ve helped ladies at church assemble homemade quilts that go to other countries. My homeschool schedule is flexible and allows me to help out during week days.

    I’ve also had the chance to help set up post-funeral luncheons at my church. My mom and I come early to help others prepare food and clean up after the service.

    My parents taught me to manage my money since I was 4. They had written either Give, Save, or Spend on 3 jars. They reminded me that Give was the most important, then Save, and finally Spend. I am to put some of my allowance into the Give jar as a church offering. Admittedly, I don’t always do this - it’s tempting to fill the Spend jar to use for myself.

    I confess I sometimes serve grudgingly but have discovered that God also graciously inclines us to serve others.

    Essay: God’s Little Blessings

    Lillian H., 12 | Arvada, Colorado

    Every day is a gift from God. Some days it may be hard to see his gifts, but you’re still breathing right? God places special people in our lives every day to bless us. “His gifts are most wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139: 14).

    Every morning, at my school, we write down 10 Eucharisteos. Eucharisteo is the Greek word for thankfulness. We write down the things that we are thankful for in the morning to set us on a positive mindset for the day. There is this one student who can’t think of anything to be thankful for because his family is struggling financially. My teacher would always walk over to him and say, “A little thought, and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.” I never really thought about what she said, but then one day I started to realize what she was talking about.

    With the gifts that God has given me, I can bless other people. One of the gifts that God has blessed me with is my intuitiveness. I can tell when other people feel hurt, discouraged, or are just having a bad day. Using that knowledge, I can do little things to help them. Whether it’s writing them a nice note or giving them a piece of candy to sweeten up their day, I can make a difference in their lives. I set aside a little time of my day to make sure I bless someone with the gifts that God has given me. I love seeing people smile when I help them. It makes me happy that I can turn their day around. I want others to see God’s bright light shining through me.

    Video: 5 Ways I Use My Gifts From God to Help Others5 Ways I Use My Gifts From God to Help Others (Link opens in new window)

    Nathan M.-R., 12 | Portland, Oregon

    In this video I become a minifigure and show the ways I use my gifts from God to help others.

    Video: Where Can You Use Your Time, Talents and Treasures?Where Can You Use Your Time, Talents and Treasures? (Link opens in new window)

    Isaac N., 12 | Rochester, Minnesota

    You can use your time, talents and treasures to give glory to God ... no matter where you are!

  • Grades 10 – 12

    Beginning of Love (Link opens in new window)Drawing: Beginning of Love

    Elsa P., 17 | Stillwater, Minnesota

    One of the gifts God has given me is a big and beautiful smile. One of the easiest ways to show love and kindness to others is through a genuine smile.

    Essay: My Gifts from God

    Jason S., 17 | Hillsborough, New York

    Growing up I was blessed by God with a great family, church, and friends. These things allowed me to develop and explore my time and talents to positively impact others. They encouraged me to push myself and explore my passions. My church was a blessing as it not only allowed me to grow deeper in my faith, but also gave me a platform to reach out to the community and connect with others. After going to a program at our church, Good Shepherd in Somerville, NJ, where we packed backpacks for kids in need, I had a life-changing experience. Our church was hosting IHN and a few homeless families were sleeping over. We invited the children to take a backpack. I was baffled at why these people were staying there, why they couldn’t purchase their own backpacks, and why these kids were so excited to get something as simple as a new box of crayons. I questioned my parents and they explained that these were good, hard-working people who just hit a bump in the road. I thought that even though I was just a kid, what if I worked hard to help people in need? The next year we volunteered to coordinate the backpack program. That was 11 years ago and I still give speeches to the congregation, apply for grants, talk to store managers about our donation needs and spend almost every day during the summer shopping and organizing supplies. Every year when I reach out to local schools and community organizations they ask for more than the previous year. My heart aches for each and every child that has to struggle for daily needs. I am honored that God touched my heart in such a way that I choose to give back my time, talents (and birthday money) so that other kids feel empowered when they return to school each year.

    Essay: Serving God by Serving Others

    Hailee C., 15 | Placentia, California

    God gave me the trait of a servant’s heart. Over the past few years, I have been very active in helping out at church. Our church has many opportunities to serve and I began working in kid’s ministry in 5th grade. My favorite part of volunteering with the kids is hearing their stories and making sure they know that they matter. These experiences have helped me to be able to use that in everyday life. Within the past year, I have pushed myself to try new things. I have started serving people who need help by cleaning their house or helping with any needs. I have also had the privilege this year of volunteering with a program called lot 318. It is a homework program for under privileged kids. This organization has students of all ages and their goal is to keep them off the street. I’ve been part of helping them how to spell their names to assisting with big projects for school. My proudest moment was working with one student that was disrespectful, rude and didn’t want to apply himself to his work. After several weeks of working with him and a lot of tough love, he finally began to come around. I was able to witness and improvement with his grades and see the caring little boy he was. It has opened my eyes to how blessed and lucky I am to have a family that loves and cares about me. It has shown me how to truly be the hands and feet of Jesus. My favorite quote is, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I will continue to work on that every day.

    Essay: The Two-Way Touch

    Emily H., 15 | Arvada, Colorado

    God works in mysterious ways. When people share something from the heart, even if it seems insignificant to them, the saying holds true that “a little bit goes a long way.” In fact, the simplest gift blesses both the receiver and the giver. The receiver because of the compelling generosity, and the giver because of the feeling you get when you know you’ve done something right.

    I find this is true often, even in my daily life. Everyone has their fair share of days they feel hopeless, and there is no doubt I fall into that category as well. How can something as insignificant as giving your time, your talents, or your treasures, help others thrive?

    At my church I see many families with younger kids. I babysit these kids sometimes on weekends for a few hours so that the adults can go on a date or get some alone time. It’s not always the easiest job, but I know when they come home that my couple of hours service to them was like a breath of fresh air!

    Even a gift of creativity can boost people up! I like to craft homemade cards for friends on their birthday or make big “Get Well” signs for family in the hospital. Sometimes, something that comes so naturally seems insignificant to me, but these personal touches make people smile, and that keeps me going.

    I’m not a very materialistic person, but I consider whatever money I have as a treasure. When I do get cash (mostly from babysitting and birthdays), I think it is important to give back to God and to my church family. One dollar a week isn’t much, but it helps the church, and its more fulfilling than trendy flip flops. Who needs new shoes anyway?

    Video: Enriching Lives Through ArtEnriching Lives Through Art (Link opens in new window)

    Catherine H., 17 | Chandler, Arizona

    Voice over video explaining how artistic talents can be used to bring people together and send messages to others and the public.