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St. Peter’s Lutheran youth lend hand to Phoenix Center

St. Peter's Lutheran Day School students Charlie Martin (left), Harper Cook, Brecken Casey and Cooper Womack present about 60 bags of camp supplies to Sarah Garrett of the Phoenix Center on May 29. The day school students along with the St. Peter's Lutheran Church Sunday school youth raised money to purchase supplies for the center's camp, which helps children who need mental health care or counseling. Go to for more information on the program, the camp or how you can help. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton


MARBLE FALLS — As Cindy Struchen and Sharleen Reitz of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church unloaded the boxes of colorful, tie-dyed bags and handed them to four St. Peter’s Lutheran Day School students, Sarah Garrett could only smile and express her appreciation.

“This is awesome,” she said as the boxes revealed dozens of blue-and-white or red-and-white tie-dyed bags. Each bag contained a box of colored pencils, a stress ball, a journal and even aromatherapy playdough.

“It’s a sensory activity that the kids love playing with,” Garrett said in reference to the playdough.

Garrett, the founder and executive director for the Phoenix Center and Camp Phoenix, stopped by the church to pick up the bags and additional supplies that will go to the summer camps. Each year, the Phoenix Center hosts several weeklong camps (both pick-up and drop-off as well as overnight) at the Candlelight Ranch, located east of Marble Falls off RR 1431.

Last year, there were more than 100 campers, but Garrett anticipates 200 this year. The bags compiled by the St. Peter’s youth will go to overnight campers.

Camp Phoenix provides therapeutic day and overnight experiences at Candlelight Ranch. The program includes equine therapy, ropes courses, art therapy, yoga and other activities.

Garrett said items such as the journals give youth a way of expressing their emotions in a positive manner instead of a negative way.

“The fact that these bags are from children for children, I think means a lot,” Garrett said.

Along with the bags and extra supplies, the St. Peter’s youth raised an additional $700 to donate to the Phoenix Center.

Struchen, the church’s children and family ministry coordinator, said the idea of helping the Phoenix Center originated when she and Jan Starkey were discussing holding a youth talent show. The church had previously held one, but not in several years.

“These past few months in Sunday School, we’ve had an emphasis on doing God’s work with our hands,” Struchen said. “We have tried to give the kids a better understanding that they can make a difference and touch the lives of those close to us as well as those we don’t even know and may never see. In order for this to be more meaningful to them, we thought it would be neat for them to do outreach by helping other kids. The Phoenix Center was the first thing that came to mind.”

Along with the camps, which are in June and July, the Phoenix Center offers many other mental health and counseling services for area youth.

“We also offer classes for parents as well,” Garrett added.

Go to for more information on the Phoenix Center, Camp Phoenix or how to help.