Like most youth groups, the “Magnet STAR” kids needed to raise some funds in order to carry out their high school theatre activities. They came to me, their principal, for some ideas and, most of all, for permission. There had already been countless student sales of popcorn, cookies, knick-knacks, discount coupons, chocolate bars, car washes and cupcakes. I felt like our community was burned out on those things. Then I remembered having read about a fundraiser that was a little different. I proposed it to these kids.
They went to a local El Paso department store and made an appointment to talk with the manager. “We are a troupe of thespians,” said the student spokesperson. “We want to stage a summer theatre extravaganza designed to keep kids off the streets and busy during the months when school is out. In order to do so, we need to raise money to build sets and to make costumes.” “So,” said the manager, “how can I be of help?”
Dates were set and arrangements were made for the students to use store inventory and space. The students would be “live mannequins” to model clothing during some of the busiest shopping times. In return, the store would make a generous contribution to their cause. Then the fun began.
The young people donned brand new blouses, dresses, pants, shirts, shoes, sports outfits and etc. tucking the labels discretely out of sight. After dressing, they would go quickly to a predetermined place and strike a pose as if they were department store mannequins. They held perfectly still, trying to avoid even blinking for long periods of time.
It was interesting to watch people go by and casually look at the clothing. Many walked right on by without realizing that the models were real people. Others would stop and look. Then they would stare. They would examine a “mannequin” from several vantage points, occasionally walking up and touching the model before jumping back in wide-eyed surprise. “It’s a real person!” The kids played their parts well and loved doing it.
As she passed one of the special mannequins, one little girl gripped her mother’s finger and stared. She seemed to know that there was something different about that particular mannequin. The mother, on the other hand, gave a cursory glance at the unmoving object and urged her child along. Obviously in a hurry to finish her shopping, she paid the statue little attention.
As I continued to watch with interest, I was struck by the fact that little children seemed to realize that the mannequins were alive much sooner than their older siblings and parents. It always took longer for the older shoppers to figure out what it was that was different about those particular mannequins. When they did, all were fascinated and some even tried to get the mannequins to smile or to break their poses—sort of like the palace guard in London.
Oh, the innocence of childhood. Those of us who are privileged to be around little children are fortunate, indeed.
“Except ye…become as little children,” declared the Master, “ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18;3-4)
He also said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14) Having more recently come from Him, perhaps they tend to be more perceptive than those of us who have been here for a longer period of time.
Charles M. Dickinson said, “They are idols of hearts and of households; They are angels of God in disguise; The sunlight still sleeps in their tresses, His glory still gleams in their eyes; These truants from home and from Heaven, They have made me more manly and mild; And I know now how Jesus could liken The kingdom of God to a child.”