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Special Needs Ministry Storage Closet & Snacks

August 16, 2011

Today’s post is the seventh in a series about my visit to Stonebriar Community Church’s Special Needs Ministry in Frisco, Texas.  Meaghan Wall, the Special Needs Ministry Coordinator for Stonebriar, was kind enough to provide a tour of the church’s special needs suite. In today’s post we’ll show pictures of the storage closet and talk about what’s in it….snacks, in particular.  The other posts in this series have or will feature helpful information related to:


It can be argued that you can learn a lot about a woman by the contents of her purse.  There is a parallel to a storage closet and a ministry.  While it may seem odd to be talking about what’s in the storage closet of Stonebriar Community Church’s special needs suite…there’s a lot of “best practices” stowed inside this supply area.

In this picture you see the check-in desk just behind the doors of the suite entrance.  The computer is where families and volunteers formally check-in and receive a nametag.  To the left is the picture wall (which we’ll talk about in a future post…get the tissues handy!)   The storage closet is really just a storage tower (not a true closet) in the center of this picture.  And to the right is a small refrigerator and cubby shelves for personal backpacks.  Children with special needs are more likely to bring their own bag or backpacks as they may have special snacks brought from home, medicine, or an important aid (favorite toy, weighted blanket, item associated with their “passion” etc).

Here is a list of items you see in the above pictures:

  • Pepperidge Farm Goldfish – standard snacks offered on Sunday mornings to children without allergies or special diets.
  • Glutino Pretzels – GFCF snacks available and offered to children on a Gluten-Free Casein-Free diet.
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones – may be used during big group worship/theater experiences or as needed in general.
  • Sensory Toy Box – providing a sensory toy can often occupy a student in need of redirection or a simple fidget toy.
  • Prizes – allergy free suckers such as Dum Dum Pops can be useful for a child who may need a reward.
  • Batteries – invariably a popular toy needs a replacement battery.
  • Sensory Swing – may be suspended from the truss in the sensory room.  This swing is frequently used during Funzone respite events.
  • Extra change of clothes for a smaller individual and a larger sized student.
  • First Aid Kit
  • Lost & Found Box
  • Storage space for volunteers’ purses – some students may have a fascination with bags and enjoy rummaging through a purse left in the room.


What items does your special needs ministry keep on hand or stored in a nearby closet?  We’d love to get ideas from you.

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  1. Brenda Springer permalink

    Hi Amy, Have you heard of any creative ways birthdays are celebrated in special needs ministries other than providing cupcakes or snacks. Since we often have children with gluten free, lactose intolerant, casein free restrictions we’d like to not exclude anyone from participating so we’re trying to think of another fun alternative. I thought you may have come across some ideas from other churches.

  2. Brenda –

    I haven’t heard of any churches doing anything for student birthdays – special needs or typical. The time on Sunday mornings is usually pretty limited and like you said, the various dietary needs can be an issue, especially in an environment where new students may pop in. Most of the churches I am familiar with try to keep things simple for Sunday morning programming. Some churches don’t even allow snacks or drinks of any sort (not even water) to be offered in the special needs classroom. But of course every church is different and perhaps you have a set-up for celebrating birthdays that works for your ministry.

    My son’s elementary school provides celebrating students a paper “Happy Birthday” crown to wear and the opportunity to visit the treasure box, which is full of small non-edible prizes like stickers, pencils, silly bands and small sensory toys. You could also help the children feel celebrated by playing a fun version of Happy Birthday and having the children sing together.

    Good luck!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Special Needs Ministry Bathroom (and Toileting Policies) « The Inclusive Church
  2. Special Needs Ministry Emphasis Sunday (& Family Picture Wall) « The Inclusive Church
  3. Special Needs Ministry Outdoor Playground « The Inclusive Church
  4. Idea for a Special Needs Ministry Fundraiser « The Inclusive Church
  5. Special Needs Ministry Classroom « The Inclusive Church
  6. Special Needs Ministry Sensory Room « The Inclusive Church
  7. Special Needs Ministry Quiet Room « The Inclusive Church
  8. Special Needs Ministry Check-in Board « The Inclusive Church
  9. Special Needs Ministry Entrance « The Inclusive Church
  10. FAQ’s: How Can We Supply a Special Needs Ministry on a Low Budget? « The Inclusive Church

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