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Stories for the Guest at Your Table program

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) sponsors an annual fund-raising program for their social justice efforts, called the "Guest at Your Table" (GaYT) program. The UUSC provides children's stories for worship, to explain the GaYT program to children in terms of the eventual results: these stories tell children about the people who will eventually get the money. However, I have discovered that for younger children who think in concrete terms, such abstractions are not adequate. If you explain to children exactly what they are supposed to do (put money in a box), giving goes up considerably. The following two stories tell children what they are supposed to do (put money in the box). Thes stories are meant to be put in rotation with the more conventional stories provided by the UUSC.

Sending sandwiches


The Guest-at-Your-Table-Box puppet is made from one of the collection boxes supplied by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; when made into a puppet, the box has a big grinning mouth that can open and close. Instructions for making the puppet are below. The story below is designed to use this puppet to introduce the Guest at Your Table program on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.


This is the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a holiday where we give thanks. What do we give thanks for? We give thanks for [list things appropriate for your audience]. And finally, of course we give thanks when we have enough to eat, because we know that there are lots of people in this world who don't have enough to eat.

And how do we give thanks at Thanksgiving? The way we give thanks is that we sit down at the table and eat a big meal. We also give thanks by helping those people in the world who do not have enough to eat — and that's why we bring home a Guest at Your Table box, and put it on the dining room table. But once I put the Guest at Your Table box on my dining room table, what should I do with it?

Here's my Guest at Your Table box. Maybe I will ask it... Guest at Your Table Box, how can I use you to help people around the world?

Box (in a sort of Muppets monster voice):



Feed you? Feed the box! But what do we feed the box?




Well, I know we can't feed real food to the box....




Ah! I know! Money! We feed the box money!

(Narrator drops coins and bills through the slot in the top of the box.)




So don't forget to keep your Guest at Your Table box on your dining room table, and feed him or her at every meal!



(Narrator drops coins and bills in box.)




Making the box:

While you're reading the instructions below, please refer to the drawing.

(1) Cut and paste: I cut out the mouth as shown in the drawing. On the flap of the box lid, I glued a piece of pink paper. Then I took the piece that I cut out for the mouth, and glued it on the flap so that when the mouth is closed, the cut-out is aligned with the mouth-hole. Then I painted on lips using one of those paint pens, and I painted on the teeth using white correction fluid (Liquid Paper or the equivalent). I adjusted everything so that the flap would slide easily up and down inside the box when I opened and closed the mouth (you may have to trim things inside the box).

(2) The handle: I used one of those wire coat hangers used for hanging trousers, with a cardboard crosspiece. I removed the cardboard part. I took a pair of pliers, and bent the coat hanger as shown in the drawing. Notice how I put a bend in the wire at the bottom of the box — I measured this carefully so that this bend would keep me from pushing the mouth open too far.

(3) Eyes: Those plastic soup spoons make perfect googly eyes — they're just the right size and shape. I colored in the pupils using a black paint pen. To attach the eyes to the box, I cut slots in the back of the box, but it would have been easier to use a glue gun or duct tape.

Sending sandwiches

This story belongs in the public domain. See note at end.

(At the time for the story, the Narrator rushes in carrying a paper bag.)

Oh, I thought I was going to be late for church today! I slept through my alarm, I got stuck in traffic, I didn't think I was going to make it. But I knew I had to make it to church to tell you more about the Guest at Your Table program. It's such an important program, set up by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee to provide assistance to people around the world.

(Reaches into paper bag, pulls out a Guest at Your Table box.)

When you take one of these Guest at Your boxes and put it on your dining room table, and then put money in it every time you sit down to eat — umm, speking of eating, I was so rushed, I forgot to eat breakfast this morning. Do you mind if I make a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich?

(Reaches into paper bag, pulls out jar of peanut butter, jar of jelly, two slices of bread, a plate, a knife, a spoon.)

Don't mind me while I make this sandwich. Mmm, I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Now, what was I saying? Oh, yes, so we take this Guest at Your Table box and we put it on the table while we're eating. And the Guest at Your Table box helps people around the world — people who don't have access to clean water, people who don't have enough to eat....

(Finishes making sandwich, gets ready to take bite.)

Wait! -- what am I doing? There are lots of people in the world who don't have enough to eat. And here I am, about to eat this luscious peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I know what I can do! I can skip breakfast today. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'm going to put this sandwich in my Guest at Your Table box, so that the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee can send it to someone who really needs it.

(Opens box, squishes sandwich into box. Pause for audience reaction.)

Is that what we're really going to do with our Guest at Your Table boxes?

(Audience replies: "No!")

No, of course not! We can't send real sandwiches to people, the sandwiches would rot before they got to the right place.

(Reaches in to paper bag, gets another, clean, Guest at Your Table box.)

No, we don't send sandwiches. Instead, what we do is every time we sit down to eat, we put some money into our Guest at Your Table box....

(Puts coins and bills into box.)

...and then the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee will send the money to people who need it around the world.

This story came from the religious educators of the Mass. Bay District RE Team, circa 1998.