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Church supplies teachers with love

Teachers at two local schools felt the love from Berea Christian Church during the church’s first school supply store on Friday.

Members of the church have been collecting school supplies and classroom necessities since June, using the supply lists from Driver and Nansemond Parkway elementary schools — the two closest to the church — as guides.

Teachers from both schools were invited to the Driver Lane church on Friday afternoon to pick out supplies for their students and classroom. The “store” will also be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I just thought it would be an interesting project for our small church,” said Betty Barnes, chair of the missions committee, which led the effort. “We’re helping schools right here in the community. It’s been real exciting.”

Barnes said the got the idea when she heard last year that local teachers have to buy school supplies and classroom needs out of their own pockets.

“It was just a way to support the local community, teachers and students,” said Marsha Jenkins, a church volunteer.

The church could have simply dropped off the items at the schools, but Jenkins said allowing teachers to pick out their own supplies allows them to get just what they want.

Also, “it gives us an opportunity to be friendly and wish them a good school year,” Jenkins said.

Barnes said the members of the church had collected 2,260 individual items — enough for each teacher in both schools to choose an assortment of 40 items.

Tables in the church’s fellowship hall were well stocked on Friday afternoon with a wide selection of school supplies and other classroom needs. Teachers could choose from three-ring binders, file folders, spiral notebooks, composition notebooks, dividers, sheet protectors, construction paper, loose leaf paper, index cards, printer paper, scissors, pens and pencils, pencil bags and boxes, erasers, colored pencils, crayons, markers, highlighters, glue and glue sticks, tape, rulers, Play-Doh, snack bags, paper and foam plates, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, hand soap, Post-It notes, paper clips and more.

As if the classroom supplies weren’t enough, the church members also offered refreshments and a thank-you gift. Teachers could also expand their classroom libraries with books donated by vacation Bible school students, which did not count toward their 40 items.

Teachers from Driver Elementary School were blown away by the effort.

“It’s just so generous that the church community came together to help the local teachers,” said Jessica McCabe, a physical education teacher at Driver. “It’s heartwarming.”

Brenda Betts, a fifth-grade special education teacher at Driver, agreed.

“It really gives us a sense of community,” she said, adding it will be especially helpful for new teachers. “It’s very thoughtful and very helpful.”

“We just want them to know we appreciate them for everything,” said Shantel Moore, who is beginning her sixth year teaching at Driver. “This is amazing.”

Barnes said the church hopes to make the school supply store an annual effort. She asked teachers to email the church with feedback, including what items they would like to see more of at the store.

In addition to Barnes, the missions committee includes Linda Knight, Beverly Miller, Hazel Brusso, Cameron Butler and Stephanie Outlaw.