Back to school with a blessing

About mid-morning Friday, the Oakland Christian Church bus rolled into the Oakland Elementary School parking lot with good news for a lot of families.

Collecting school supplies for the school just down the road, to give to needy children and help teachers, has become an annual tradition for Oakland Christian.

Church kids collect the donated supplies during Vacation Bible School in July. The Rev. Greg Ryan says it’s a way for the church community to “stay more connected to the kids in our community.”

“School districts are underfunded — massively underfunded,” said Ryan, who’s been with the church about a year.

“Anything we can do to help, we are grateful to do it.”

The period when donations were collected was extended beyond the weeklong Bible school to allow others in the church community to contribute, said Jason Stump, the church’s director of Christian education and organizer of the effort.

As well as benefiting the school and family in a more tangible way, the effort also shows the church kids how “sometimes life can get us in a position where we need a little extra help,” Stump said.

“Sometimes that little bit relieves a whole lot of stress on people’s lives.”

Having taught for six years at King’s Fork Middle School, Stump said he knows how frequently kids come to class without the supplies they need and that often schools don’t have the ability to help.

“The guidance office having the supplies helps,” he said.

Judy Dempsey, a peer professional at Oakland Elementary, said, “Sometimes a teacher will come and say, ‘Hey, look, they (students) don’t have any supplies.’ We just fill up a backpack and give them the supplies they need.

“Other than that, during the year, a teacher might run out of something. We go into the supply cupboard and give them what they need.”

The school relies on community donations, Dempsey said. “There are some things that are bought with school money (but) all those donations are very helpful during the year.”

The Bible school also raised money for The Genieve Shelter.


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