Driver church supplies local teachers

Published 9:54 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Members of Berea Christian Church in Driver opened their doors on Monday to offer Suffolk teachers thousands of school supplies.

The church missions committee collected 3,567 individual items that were donated by roughly 75 church members for more than 70 grateful teachers at Florence Bowser and Nansemond Parkway elementary schools, according to committee chairperson Betty Barnes.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Florence Bowser Elementary School Principal Melodie Griffin, who was there with Assistant Principal Cheryl Riddick. “We’re just honored that they thought about our staff and our students enough to get these supplies.”

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It was the second year the committee has organized a school supply drive for local teachers, having done the same for Nansemond Parkway and Driver Elementary School staff with 2,260 items last year, Barnes said. Committee board members Susan and Stephanie Outlaw, Linda Knight, Hazel Brusso and Martha Willis all agreed that this was once again a church-wide effort.

“We’re small but mighty, and the board couldn’t do this if the congregation didn’t support us,” Willis said.

Members laid out pencils, notebooks, folders and a variety of other supplies on tables inside the church for teachers to peruse. Each teacher was able to choose up to 40 items at no cost. They also got to have their fill of various baked goods and light refreshments that the members had prepared.

“We do have some good cooks,” Barnes said.

Each teacher also got a special pencil box at checkout that was loaded with hand-crocheted items like dish cloths and “mug rugs” for their morning coffee.

“With what they’re doing for our kids, we wanted them to feel special too,” Susan Outlaw said.

It was a heartening experience for Taylor Flick, a kindergarten teacher at Florence Bowser Elementary. Flick heads into her first year of teaching since graduating from Bluefield College, and she’ll have plenty of hand sanitizer and rubber bands for her classroom thanks to the church.

“I grew up in a small town where I was really close with my churchgoing community, so to see another church just reach out to people they don’t even know is just such an amazing opportunity,” Flick said, especially as a new teacher at a new school. “It gives me a lot of courage.”

Patricia Brown works with visually impaired students at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School, while her fellow faculty member Holly Boyce teaches the hearing impaired. Brown’s choices were highlighters, papers in different colors and other high-contrast materials that help her students read and write.

“We spend a lot of time looking for bargains on things like paper, notebooks and just shop around to get the best supplies,” Boyce said as she and Brown walked past tables with markers, pens and glue sticks. “It’s individualized for each student, and we make a lot of our own resources.”

Barnes said it was important for the church to raise the school supply goal this year for all the teachers that are preparing their classrooms at the new Florence Bowser Elementary School.

“It’s a church-wide service project to try and show care and love to our schools that are right in our community,” she said. “We know so many teachers have to buy school supplies, and we thought that if we collected these supplies before school started, then it would help the teachers.”

Boyce said she was amazed by what they brought to the table.

“It’s really unbelievable how they came together like this. That gentleman even walked my bag to the door for me,” she said.