GREECE — Mary Eggleston kept tossing the bean-bag frogs to the fifth- and sixth-graders.
“When you’re 50 years old, I want to see these in your house,” she told the children, who giggled and shouted as they tried to catch the frogs. She later explained that she gave away the frogs because they would remind her students to F.R.O.G. — Forever Rely On God.
“I want them always in life to be thinking … they can pray, they can talk to God,” she said.
It was Aug. 11, the last day of a weeklong morning Bible school at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, 36 Armstrong Road. The theme of the school was “God’s Great Rescue,” according to Michelle Andrews-Smith, Mercy’s faith-formation coordinator. The school drew 98 preschool and elementary-school children, she said, adding that each day began with a visit from an area rescue vehicle, including a fire engine, an ambulance and a helicopter, as well as the public servants who use them.
“I wanted the kids to know those who rescue us all the time, to be comfortable with their equipment and how they looked,” Andrews-Smith said.
One of the most popular visits was by a STAT MedEvac helicopter from Dansville. The helicopter, which is used to transport critically ill or injured patients, landed in the parish parking lot Aug. 8. The helicopter serves hospitals in Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo, according to Kiera Kuhn, coordinator of business relations and development for STAT MedEvac, which she noted was owned by the Pittsburgh-based Center of Emergency Medicine.
After the chopper landed, the Bible school students were allowed to explore the vehicle’s interior.
“Is there a microwave?” one child asked.
“No, there’s no microwave,” answered one of the flight nurses.
Another child, learning that the helicopter can ascend as high as 8,000 feet, noted that he didn’t want to go skydiving, and the nurse agreed that she didn’t want to go skydiving either.
Caleb J. Robinson, 6, repeatedly called the helicopter “radical!”
“I mean it’s cool,” Caleb said. “When I grow up, I want to be a helicopter man or woman or something!”
Realizing what he’d said, Caleb corrected himself and stated loudly, “Man!”
Kaitlyn Pratt, 15, a volunteer working with the first- and second-graders, said the school activities seemed to be having an impact on the children.
“I think that they’re getting that God is always there for us, he’s there to rescue you so you don’t get in trouble,” she said.
At the end of the week, four 10-year-old students seemed to confirm Kaitlyn’s observation, as they answered questions about what they had learned. Stephanie McAvoy, for example, said she learned a lot about God.
“You may not see him, but he’s always there when you pray to him to help,” she said.
She added that she needs God’s help because “sometimes I get yelled at, and I don’t know what to do. I need help getting over that.”
When asked if she had experienced being yelled at a lot, she replied: “Not as much as my brother.”
She noted that she especially liked learning about David and Goliath.
“I think it was so cool that David, a simple man, defeated a 9-foot giant,” she said. “He had a slingshot. He put a rock in it and, with God’s help, he hit (Goliath) right above the nose.”
Annalise Mangione said she liked learning about Jesus.
“He died so that we could live,” she said. “Now there’s a heaven that we can go to when we die, when we pass away.”
Like Caleb, she said she enjoyed the rescue helicopter.
“It’s really cool how fast it could go, and how long they are, and how they help people most of the time,” she said.
Nathan Bardeen said he was impressed by how God rescued the Israelites from the wrath of the Egyptian pharaoh when Moses parted the Red Sea.
“It was just amazing that he opened up a whole sea, and the Israelites walked through it,” he said.
Nathan noted that he also learned that he can always pray to God.
“He’s even there even if you don’t even need help,” he said.
Kyle Mattle said he’d always hold on to the bean-bag frog his teacher gave him, to remind him to rely on God. He added that he wanted to be an ambulance driver when he grew up.
“I just think it’s cool that people get to rescue people every day,” he said. “It gives you a good feeling.”
Eggleston said the students spent the week learning about biblical figures such as David, Moses and St. Stephen, because they all had one thing in common.
“All of them had to rely on God for their help,” she said.