Church kids ease school burdenPublished 8:28pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Bags bursting with back-to-school supplies will help Oakland Elementary School families, thanks to the efforts of kids from a Chuckatuck church.
Fifty-four children from Oakland Christian Church collected the 20 bags of supplies during a five-day vacation Bible school that ended last Friday, said mission project coordinator Kirsten Wise.
The bags are “full of stuff” like pencils, markers, sheet protectors, paper, calculators, erasers and highlighters — “everything that’s on the school supply list,” Wise said, helping the children deliver the bags to the school Tuesday.
“The church is in the process of becoming educational partners with the elementary school,” Wise explained. “They (the children) were very excited about doing this, and it really taught them to give to the community, and that not everyone is as fortunate as they are.
“We had quite a few kids actually give babysitting money or buy supplies with their own money by going into their piggybanks.”
Bonnie Townsend Dinges, minister for children’s education and family life at the church, said, “I understand 40 percent of the student body at the school are below the poverty line, and they have a really difficult time to gather school supplies.”
Helping the school will be an “ongoing thing,” she said, noting that some children from the church attend the school as well, “so it’s helping our own church family.”
“We have done school supplies before, but they have gone to a variety of places. I don’t think we have ever brought in this amount.”
Every year, the Bible school embarks on two projects: one local — this year the school supplies project — and the other related to a specific subject, which this year was “sea life.”
In additional to collecting the school supplies, the children raised $500 for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s Stranding Response Team, which rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals and sea turtles when they become beached on the shore.
“A few kids on the last day went door-to-door and raised $100, on their own, and they were all under age 6,” Wise said, adding that the experience also taught the children to be responsible.
As a reward for their hard work, the children were taken on a dolphin-watching trip to Rudee Inlet, half-funded by the church and sponsored by the aquarium, which they also got the chance to visit.