By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (September 9, 2011) – Evangelical Covenant Church congregations across the country have been helping local students and teachers prepare for classes in the public schools.
Bridges Covenant Church in Tavares, Florida, held its “Back 2 School Bash” and gave 100 kids “as many school supplies as they could carry.” Many of them received new backpacks. The church also made sure students looked nice for the first day by providing free haircuts.
Elements Covenant Church in Bronx, New York, a recent new church plant, also gave backpacks and provided more than school supplies. They also distributed toys, videos and sports items.
In International Falls, Minnesota, River Covenant Church teamed with the Rotary Club to sponsor “Learning Tree,” a community wide effort to prepare students for the start of classes.
Learning trees were placed at five locations around town. Apples with shopping lists hung from each tree. Kids ages five to 17 wrote their needs on the tree’s apples. Each apple lists five school supplies and three clothing items the child wished to have for school.
“In a small town, you don’t always think there are that many people needing help,” said Joe Nikolanci, one of the organizers. More than 120 students signed up.
“It is the most rewarding experience seeing the children get to pick up their backpacks and new clothes,” said Nikolanci. “They are so excited and thrilled.”
Bethany Covenant Church in Mt. Vernon, Washington, had made collecting backpacks part of their VBS program. The backpacks were delivered to four elementary schools that then distributed them to needy students.
Organizers of the events say they are important, not just for preparing students to attend school, but also to help the children not stand out from their fellow classmates. The simple act of giving a backpack is a means of demonstrating the love of Christ, they stress.
Marin Covenant Church in San Rafael, California, has an ongoing partnership with a local elementary school. Church members volunteer in classrooms, help with beautification work in the campus gardens, and provide appreciation lunches for teachers.