Two Sundays ago, anyone wandering through downtown Kalamazoo might have wondered if someone had pulled a prank in Bronson Park.
On that Sunday, there was clothing strewn across the park, hanging from trees and draped over statues.
But it was no prank. It was the work of a group of students from First Presbyterian Church of Richland, who had decided they had enough of talking about what Jesus would do.
They wanted to do what Jesus would do.
The students conducted a clothing drive at church and that Sunday they distributed the items in the park, with tags that said, "I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold, please take this to keep warm! Your friends at First Presbyterian Church of Richland."
The Rev. Mark Jennings, pastor at First Presbyterian, said the idea was inspired by the high school Sunday school class.
"The high school Sunday school class this year talked with their teacher about the fact that they've learned lessons all these years from the Bible about what Jesus said and did," Jennings said. "They were wanted to put some of that in action this year."
Sunday school teacher Meredith Alspach said there are two high schools in the class, Jacqueline Brignall and Alanna Wyckoff and they involved middle school students in the project as well.
The students saw this project in another city and loved the idea, Alspach said. They loved the idea of doing something for the community, she said.
"High school kids don't want to go to church. They're bored," she said. "Over the holidays I was thinking about what would a more effective way to teach them. I thought enough already. How are they going to put these church lessons into action when they walk away from us?"
The students made an appeal to the congregation and received more than 100 hats, scarves, coats, mittens and packages of socks.
They brought the items to Bronson Park where they draped the items over tree branches, along benches and on the statues of children.
Addressing the needs of the homeless will remain the group's focus throughout the school year. In addition to the clothing drive, the students are helping with the church's food pantry and launching special drives to ensure children who come to the pantry get to choose treats -- just like any other kid on a shopping trip.