This week leaders from four churches and more than 40 volunteers will converge on Sunset Park to host a bilingual, multi-racial, interdenominational, good old fashion vacation Bible school.

This year they've chosen a Country/Western cowboy theme. Students will have cowboy-themed lessons, snacks, crafts and games. At the end of each session, they will also receive a snow cone and a free sack lunch.

On the last day, there will be a barbecue for students and their families from noon to 3 p.m. - all totally free of charge.

"There's been a lot of donations by people in this community," Sunset Elementary teacher Mark Douglas said. "A lot of times when people realize that we're doing something for kids or families, this community really comes out."

Another feature, the program is taught in Spanish and English.

Each group will have at least one person who is fluent in Spanish to assist students with limited English speaking abilities.

"It's not just a bunch of white people putting on a VBS," Assemble of God pastor Terry Haight said. "There's an equal blend. We reflect the people we're trying to reach."

The program was initiated two summers ago by Haight and Douglas, a member of Oasis Vineyard Church.

For several years, both men have participated in numerous community service projects in the neighborhood.

As a school teacher, Douglas has interacted with many at-risk youth from the region surrounding the park.

Both Douglas and Haight recognized the need to provide youth in the area with more structured extracurricular activities.

Vacation Bible school is just one of several ways they've used to reach out to the area. This year they're anticipating between 75-120 students.

"Really the target isn't our own churches, it's the neighborhood," said Douglas. "This street over the last 20 years has been one of the highest crime neighborhoods."

This year, Haight and Douglas partnered up with Pastor Hector Ramirez of Templo de Fe, Esperanza y Amor church and Linda Parker of Hermiston Christian Center.

In addition to teaching about matters of faith, one of their goals is to help youth to develop character.

"The neat thing about building character is that kid's need to see that even though you make mistakes, you're still loved," said Parker.

Vacation Bible School in Sunset Park will be held June 12-16 from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, call Lyndsey at 541-567-5831.

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