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In tough economy, churches reach out to students, teacherscomment (0)

August 27, 2009

By Anna Swindle

Sixty Gordo Elementary School students started the school year with backpacks full of school supplies thanks to members of First Baptist Church, Gordo, in Pickens Baptist Association.

The church focused on raising money for the school during the months of June and July and ended the summer with more than $2,000 — an amount far exceeding its goal.

“We set the bar high, and we said we wanted to raise enough for 60 kids, but we actually got all 60 and had money left over,” said Pastor David Singleton. “We’re trying to fulfill the Acts 1:8 mandate and fulfill the needs of our community.”

With the school a mere two blocks from First, Gordo, church members are truly reaching out to their neighbors. This is the first year the church has reached out to Gordo Elementary, but Singleton hopes it will become a tradition.

He pointed out that now is an especially relevant time to start helping out.

“With all the economic issues, there have been a lot of cutbacks in the school system, and I’m just trying to keep my eyes open and ask our people to keep their eyes open for opportunities for us to minister, whether it’s for the school as a whole or for individual students,” Singleton said.

First, Gordo, is among a number of Alabama Baptist churches seeking to meet the needs of schools. Lakeside Baptist Church, Birmingham, is putting an emphasis on supporting Rocky Ridge Elementary School in Hoover, starting with the teachers and other staff members.

On Aug. 11, the Birmingham Baptist Association church hosted a luncheon for the entire Rocky Ridge Elementary staff. Even though the teachers were busy preparing for the students to arrive the next day, the event was a rousing success.

“It was a breath of fresh air in the midst of a tense time,” said Regina Howell, an instructional support teacher at Rocky Ridge and a member of Lakeside Baptist. “The teachers were overwhelmed and some were in tears about the thought and time that had gone into it. Our minister promised that the church would be praying for them each day, and that really made an impact.”

Lakeside presented the school with a $1,000 donation, as well as giving all the staff members personalized gift bags and gift certificates for a free Wednesday night meal. One teacher cashed in her gift certificate the next night.

And if all goes as planned, then the luncheon was just the start of an ongoing relationship between the church and school.

“We have rosters of classes at Rocky Ridge Elementary, and Sunday School classes will adopt a class,” said Steve Taylor, minister of Christian education at Lakeside. “They’ll have communication with the class as far as cards and different things throughout the year, and we’ll have the school calendar and will try to coincide with special dates.”

And the Rocky Ridge staff is planning to go to the church sometime in September. While the church’s intention was to extend a helping hand to the school, it might see some growth thanks to the new friendship.

But Howell noted that this outreach effort isn’t an attempt to pad the pews.

“It was done to support the teachers and show the love of Jesus,” she said.

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