With over 100 children signed up to receive help with backpacks and school supplies, how does a small church with a big heart meet such a huge need?
Ask the community to be a part of God’s love in action, that’s how.
The money estimated to meet this need was $5,000. That’s a fair sum for most small churches. The community made quick work of the challenge hitting just above that mark last week.
There were no buying decisions that involved purchasing one item to the exclusion of another. Buy everything on the list was the mission statement given to a small group of experienced shoppers.
Comparative shopping included many stores and even online purchases. By 7:00 p.m. on 13 August 2014, over 100 children left the Cumberland Presbyterian Church fully equipped for the first day of school.
There are always some parents who just don’t get the word despite fliers, postings, and news articles galore. What do you do with those folks?
Get them some school supplies, of course. Ministry seldom fits neatly into a box. The shopping team hit the road once again to buy supplies for about a dozen more students.
And what about those who still didn’t get the word or who have arrived in the community at the last minute?
The church keeps some supplies on hand just for those cases.
Again, how does someone hit a $5,000 goal in such short order? Generosity, compassion, mercy, and a heart for the children of this community rallied large donations from Grace Baptist Church in Dill City and the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Mangum. Large and small individual donations accompanied these and added them to what the Burns Flat Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Ministerial Alliance had donated prior to registration.
Many also dropped off in-kind donations during the past two weeks. Some wanted the joy of buying the kindermat themselves or perhaps it was just the smell of fresh crayons, but in-kind donations were a significant part of this ministry.
The ministry goes well beyond the logistics of purchasing backpacks and supplies. The ministry is about love. That is why it was vitally important that children participated as ministry members.
Families that registered for help with school supplies were given an appointment time on Wednesday the 13th of August. Appointments help cut down long waits in line or the very human fear that there won’t be anything left if everyone else gets in line ahead of me. Both people and supplies would be at the right place at the appointed time.
Families were greeted upon arrival. Children were seated in the sanctuary and watched a video of this year’s Vacation Bible School while the forms used to shop for the children were matched up with the parents.
All then walked through the tropical island to the fellowship hall. For the past 3 years, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church has left most of the Vacation Bible School decorations up through the completion of the backpack ministry.
Once the family was escorted to the fellowship hall, their fellow students led them to the tables where everyone got to pick out a backpack of their liking. Concurrently, adults or older youth would retrieve the prepackaged supplies for the appropriate grade.
The kids helping kids was surely the most precious part of this ministry. Preparation, organization, and donations are necessary, but they just can’t compete with children being brought up in the way they should go. This was the rubber met the road in God’s love in action.
It all concluded with prayer for each family and for their teachers, administrators, and people that contributed to the education of the children.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church thanks all who contributed in so many ways to this opportunity to get so many children off to a good start this school year. You will surely be blessed!
The church has one more request. All are asked to pray for the safety and care of our students and staff. Pray that the teachers are renewed each day for this very special work. Pray that students arrive at school each day with a receptive and teachable spirit. Pray for these young people that they too will mature with a generous and giving spirit to go with a first class education.