SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A Sharp County ministry is hoping to reduce the number of drownings by hosting a special swim lesson and handing out life jackets to local children.
Lauren Siebert began the Comfort Keepers Ministry at Highland First Assembly of God four years ago.
"Here at the church, we deliver food baskets around Thanksgiving," Siebert explained. "At that time I was out delivering and I kept going into houses that they were heating with their ovens. One house, in particular, had several small children and it just wasn't safe."
So she began distributing heaters in the winter and fans in the summer to people in need around the county.
Siebert said this year, she felt like God was telling her that something needed to be done to benefit the kids of the community.
"We have 3 rivers, umpteen lakes, umpteen ponds and we have drownings every year," Siebert said. "So what it grew into was a day where we would have a certified swim instructor who would come and teach these kids how to float on their back because if nothing else you can keep from drowning if you can just do that, no matter what body of water you're in."
She also felt like they needed to hand out life jackets to the kids who attend the class on June 2.
In order to provide enough life jackets and continue with the other aspects of the ministry, Siebert and Taylor Raines, the children's pastor at Highland First Assembly of God, are asking for the community's help.
"The best thing for us would be money for life jackets or donating life jackets," Raines said. "But life jackets are based on weight and height and that kind of thing so it's best for the kids' safety if we can decide how many kids are coming, what age groups and weight groups, and make sure we have the right fit to keep them as safe as possible. So monetary donations are preferred but of course, we would gladly accept any donation you would offer."
Donations can be dropped off at the church, located at 33 Meadowbrook Drive in Highland.
The swimming instruction will take place on June 2, during the Hardy Fireman's Fair.
"Starting Monday we will have forms here at the church and parents will have to sign a liability form and fill out a form that will have the child's name, weight, if they have any experience, what their experience is with the water," Siebert said. "We're going to keep those out until about the first week in May."
Siebert said they have spots for about 115 children to participate.
For more information, you can call the church at 870-856-3886 or email email@example.com.