The National Day of Prayer is no lip-service event at Hickory Valley Christian School. On Thursday morning in the gymnasium, one group of students was praying for pets and putting their faith into action by making dog toys for a rescue organization.
In another room, students were praying by name and specific need for President Barack Obama, Gov. Bill Haslam and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.
Upstairs, a group of fourth- and fifth-graders was hearing about prayer in working with children from Todd Humbert of Child Evangelism Fellowship.
Outside, volunteers were putting the finishing touches on the contents of care packages that would be packed by students and sent to those serving in Kuwait with the 230th Tennessee National Guard Engineer Battalion medical team.
"Our thoughts," said third-grade teacher Debbie Grimes, who coor-
dinates the annual event with the help of faculty and parents, "are that our children will realize that prayer is important in every profession and ministry. For the little ones, [we hope they understand] we have so many things to be thankful for. For all of our children, [we hope they know it is] our privilege to pray for our country."
The National Day of Prayer event at the school started small about eight years ago, she said, but it has become more elaborate.
"Each year is different," she said. "It's whatever [ideas] the Lord sends us."
Hickory Valley Christian School parent LeeAnne Viall, who volunteered her time to help, said the experience is priceless for her daughter, Maggie.
While faith is an important part of their lives, she said, her daughter "is getting exposed to things we'd not thought to talk about at home." Being part of the activities, she said, "gives [her daughter] the chance to give back in ways we had not been able to do ourselves."
The activities were separated by age groups, upper school (grades 2-5) and lower school (3-year-old kindergarten-grade 1).
Upper-schools students heard five speakers talk about how prayer is important in their respective professions, made red, white and blue prayer chains to send to government heads, took a prayer walk and created a prayer journal.
Asked by Grimes what he prayed for President Obama in making his chain, third-grader Luiz Campos said, "To help the health of our country." Second-grader Shrayen Daniels shared, "That his daughters would have wisdom." And third-grader Amanda Leonard said, "To give him wisdom to help the unemployed."
Lower-school students put together the pet toys at a pet station, concocted a gummy-worm-filled edible earth cup at a food station, collected items from the playground and garden during the creation station, learned sign-language words for family members from Tennessee Temple University students at the family station, said silent prayers during an activity surrounding the school's giant parking-lot U.S. map at the nation station and heard from a youth pastor on the importance of prayer at the pastor station.
That afternoon, all students gathered in Hickory Valley Christian Church's sanctuary to pray for government leaders, the media, churches, families, the military and education.
Grimes said prayer for the country is not new for the Christian school.
However, she said, "it's been something I felt was important for our school to do," she said.