Small actions, big difference

Published 7:54 pm Saturday, August 15, 2015

Retailers all over the nation are ramping up their back-to-school specials in the homestretch before school starts, and children and their parents are reaping the benefits.

But even with the lower sales prices and the savings available from Virginia’s tax-free weekends, some students would find themselves without the proper supplies to start the school year if it weren’t for the kindness of folks like Terry Burnett, minister at Little Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

Burnett and his flock are preparing for the church’s third annual Car Show and School Supply Giveaway, set for Saturday. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with up to 100 attending children receiving backpacks filled with school supplies. The car show will help fund two $500 scholarships that will be awarded the following day.

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But Little Mt. Zion isn’t the only church collecting and giving away school supplies to those who cannot purchase their own. The Mission Outreach Team at West End Baptist Church will have a Backpacks for Success program from 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 29. Organizers expect to distribute more than 100 backpacks with supplies in them during the event.

Partner to Serve, a coalition of fraternal and sororal organizations located in Suffolk, will give 150 backpacks with school supplies to several of the city’s public elementary schools.

And the Salvation Army is collecting donations through Aug. 20 for stuffed backpacks that will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting Aug. 31. Officials hope to give away at least 160 bags by the time they’re done.

Those are only a few of the biggest school supply donation drives taking place around Suffolk this month. Churches and philanthropic organizations around the city are gearing up for many other, similar giveaways — many of them done quietly, so as not to attract attention to themselves.

But the difference they’ll make in young students’ lives will be plainly evident in the smiles those children wear when they leave for the first day of a new school year with new backpacks and bundles of supplies to help them start on the right foot.

Kudos to those who go out of their way to help others in little ways like this. Their small actions can combine to make a big difference in the humanity of a community like Suffolk.