Green Tree Sunday school students hold illustrated book signing at Bluebird

Published 1:00 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

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Green Tree Christian Fellowship Sunday school students gathered at the Bluebird Coffee Company in downtown Andalusia for an illustrated book signing on Saturday, Feb. 3.

Debbie Ham is the author of an animal book series at Green Tree Christian Fellowship. “Sunny, the Samaritan Dog” is the fifth edition in the series.

“Sunny, the Samaritan Dog” is the fifth edition of an animal book series written by Sunday school teacher Debbie Ham with assistance from Jim and Laura Carpenter. Children of Green Tree drew illustrations for the book. All proceeds made will be put into a Special Friends account at CCB Community Bank in Andalusia.

“Sunny was first discovered by special needs adults. She smelled bad but was still loved. No matter how someone looks or smells, we should love them and need to learn from Sunny. God laid it on my heart to write the book. Laura Carpenter and I are doing special activities for special needs adults. We know that if we serve God, He will bless us. The children love to draw pictures for the book and be involved each time,” Ham said.

The theme for Ham’s Sunday school class is “Helping Hands” this year.

“My pastor said the children needed to know Jesus walked on the water, but it’s more important for them to understand the ministry to others. Danielle Sightler, who was 10 years old at the time, is now my helper 13 years later. This is something she will never forget, and these children will never forget being a part of a ministry no matter how old they are. Sunny has turned into a star, and I thank God for Sunny,” she said.

Special Friends activities and parties are only for adults who have a diagnosis of intellectual disabilities who have completed high school.

“The children are walking around Bluebird asking people to buy a book for our Special Friends ministry. That is a blessing to see them excited about giving. Last year, we took up love offerings in Sunday school and fed 1,000 children with rice in Kenya. My kids bless me, and it’s awesome for God to allow me to have two ministries with one giving to the other,” Ham said.

Carpenter described Sunny as a snickerdoodle about 13 years old. She first discovered her while attending an intellectual disabilities camp at Blue Lake in the Conecuh National Forest.

“Sunny came up by the lake and was hungry, matted, and distressed with fleas and ticks. I called my husband and told him we would take her home if she was still here Sunday. He told me we didn’t need a dog because we travel a lot. As the last one to leave the camp, Sunny was sitting in front of my car, and I took that as a sign I needed to take her. I kept her overnight and took her to Dr. Toby Atkinson the next day. He and his staff took care of her for two weeks while I tried to find the owners. Nobody claimed her, and she became our dog,” Carpenter said.

Five of the children at the signing spoke about helping others and participating in the book.

“It was fun to draw for the book and make people feel happy about it. Whenever I sell it, it makes me happy. Sunny is a nice dog, and I’m glad Mrs. Laura found her, or she probably would not be here with us today,” James Sullivan said.

“I enjoy helping out by drawing for this book and raising money for the adults with Special Friends,” Gabbi Luis said.

“I like to help those in Special Friends and look forward to drawing in the books each time,” Jaylin Luis said.

“It was fun to draw the front and back covers. Sunny is adorable, and I enjoyed being a part of her story,” Jacelyn Wilson said.

“I like to help folks and raise funds. Sunny is just like my dog, and I like her a lot,” Johnny Richburg said.

A knot was found near Sunny’s tail during treatment at Andalusia Animal Clinic and determined to be cancer.

“We have not had a dog in 14 years, and Sunny is our first rescue dog. Our lifestyle was not ready for a dog, but she rescued us. I had been secretly praying for a dog and told God to send me one if I needed one. I knew that was the only way my husband Jim would agree to get a dog. Sunny is an angel dog to us,” Carpenter said.

With no children of her own, Carpenter added that Sunny has helped fill that void.

“She and I walk twice a day: once in the morning and once in the afternoon. We spend a lot of time together, and she has been a great dog for us. I took Sunny and some of her toys out to Debbie’s Sunday school class. Debbie did a great job telling the story of Sunny, and Dr. Atkinson’s office took her to the nursing home for a visit. I don’t pray for Sunny because I believe God is taking care of her, but I pray for the vet and others who help look after her.”

Copies of “Sunny, the Samaritan Dog” may be purchased at Bluebird for $10 per copy and must be paid in cash.

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