Area churches plan Halloween activities for kids

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St. John's Lutheran Church will hold its annual Halloween Open House on Thursday, Oct. 31, from 4 - 7 p.m. Pumpkin bowling was one of the featured games last year that will be repeated this year. (Press photo by Shelia Tomkins)

By Caroline Rosacker

Living Water Bible Fellowship and St. John's Lutheran Church in Guttenberg will open their doors to the community and offer a variety of safe, family-friendly, Halloween activities for children. The events are set to take place in conjunction with Guttenberg's community-wide Trick-or-Treat on Thursday, Oct. 31. 

St. John's Lutheran Church will hold its Halloween Open House from 4 - 7 p.m., and Living Water Bible Fellowship will hold its Trunk or Treat and Children's Carnival from 4 - 6 p.m. 

Living Water Bible Fellowship Trunk or Treat

This year marks the fourth year Living Water Bible Fellowship, located at 119 Highway 52, will host its popular Trunk or Treat Halloween event. 

Jo Ann Janssen, spokeswoman for the group, explained, "We started Trunk or Treat because we wanted to do something for the community and provide a safe environment for children." 

Door-to-door trick or treating can pose a problem for parents of small children. Increasing darkness, cumbersome costumes, and busy streets can be a recipe for disaster on Halloween night. 

Jo Ann commented, "Our first year we only provided Trunk or Treat in our parking lot. The event has grown throughout the years to include a variety of games with prizes, face painting, and a free meal of grilled hot dogs, chips, lemonade and water. My husband Ron, does the grilling!" 

Parishioners will create a U-shape in the parking lot. Each vehicle trunk will be decorated in fun Halloween themes and have candy dispersed from the trunk. Games of chance and face painting will be held indoors. 

Jo Ann shared, "It a pretty fun time. The first year we had a limited number of people but through the years attendance has steadily increased."

The event is free to the public. All activities will be moved indoors in case of rain.  

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ministry

For the past eight years, Living Water Bible Fellowship has been Clayton County's drop-off location for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ministry. 

Jo Ann explained, "We are the drop-off site during national collections week for Operation Christmas Child. The shoebox ministry is a part of The Samaritan's Purse project, founded by Franklin Graham." 

The organization partners with churches worldwide and delivers shoebox collections to children living in areas affected by war, disease, poverty and famine. 

Jo Ann told The Press, "You can use a regular shoebox or purchase a small plastic reusable tote similar in size. We also have a limited number of boxes available at the church." 

Items requested are hygiene products, washcloths, soap, deodorant, combs and brushes; school supplies (including crayons, paper, and pencils), and new or gently-used girls and boys clothing. No candy or liquids, please. 

Jo Ann requested, "Some kind of a 'wow' gift should be included in the box. Some examples might be a small plush toy, deflated soccer ball or some kind of a trinket that is not a necessity. School supplies are especially important to the children receiving these boxes. If they don't have paper and crayons they can't go to school." 

She continued,  "If you don't want to pack a shoebox, items can be dropped off at the church and we can pack them for you." 

Packaged shoeboxes or loose items can be dropped of at the church on Nov. 18 - 25. 

For additional information contact Jo Ann Janssen at (319) 551 -0309 or

St. John's Halloween Open House

St. John's Lutheran Church, located at 203 Pearl Street, is in its eleventh year hosting its annual Halloween Open House. 

Lynda Akers, spokeswoman for the group, commented, "We have been hosting Halloween parties and hayrides as far back as 2005 - and even farther." 

"Our goal is to provide a safe, fun, kid-friendly location for trick-or-treaters and their parents. Also, we encourage kids to bring a goodwill donation for the Clayton County Food Shelf," she shared. 

An exciting list of fun, Halloween games will highlight the event. Lynda listed, "We have pumpkin bowling, Frankie's zits, Mr. Nose and candy corn ring toss. We will be serving mummy hot dogs, cheese, fruit and punch." 

The busy evening takes an army of 25 volunteers to entertain the eager trick-or-treaters. 

A free-will offering of canned goods will be accepted at the event, with all proceeds going to the Clayton County Food Shelf. 

Mobile Food Panty

For the past nine years, St. John's has opened its doors to the community on the third Saturday of each month, and the second Saturday during the months of November and December, assisting individuals who are experiencing food insecurity. 

The Mobile Food Pantry, sponsored by the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, is a monthly service available to all citizens of Northeast Iowa. The doors open at 9 a.m. with food distribution beginning at 10 a.m. Participants must have a photo I.D. and their own box or basket to carry food. 

The mobile pantry provides a variety of nutritious, perishable and non-perishable food items. The food is delivered from the food pantry's location in Waterloo, housed in a large refrigerated truck. When the truck arrives eager volunteers from the community, regardless of church affiliation, show up to help unload the truck, sort, disperse, and carry out the food according to guidelines pre-determined by quantity and selection. 

Thanksgiving Fellowship Meal

Each year St. John's holds its annual Thanksgiving meal. Look for additional information in an upcoming issue of The Guttenberg Press. 

For further information on the open house or mobile food pantry call 563-252-2355. 

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