Caring for Children with School Supplies and Clothes

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By Rick Wolcott*

Bucyrus United Methodist Church (Mid-Ohio District) recently held its 6th Annual Back-to-School Supply Carnival. The day featured free school supplies and back to school clothes, a free toothbrush, carnival games and an Info Fair. All children could attend the carnival but they had to be accompanied by an adult to receive their free supplies.

This year 319 tote bags of supplies were passed out to public, parochial and home-schooled elementary students from Bucyrus and surrounding schools.   The school supplies, purchased locally using funds donated by the Bucyrus UMC congregation, included basic items from classroom lists.  In each tote bag of supplies was a written message from the pastors of the church.

“As a result of holding this carnival for the past six years, the children of Bucyrus have come to know us, are comfortable in our building, know we care for them and are aware that God is active in their lives through us,” said event chairman Randy Garrett.

At registration, each child received a book mark with Bible verses and a list of children’s programs at the church, and each family received a pen inscribed with the words God’s Love In Action and church information.

Hundreds of bags of clothing were given away at the church clothing ministry, God’s Open Closet. Each child received two tops and two bottoms of new clothing and could select what they wished from the racks of gently-used clothing. Adults were also encouraged to take items for themselves.

Each child received a Gideon New Testament Bible at the Info Fair. The fair included information booths from 22 agencies, interactive games, raffles and giveaways, and tours of a fire truck, ambulance, police cruiser and a school bus.

“By giving free supplies and some new clothes to these children from low-income families, we’re removing the stigma they may suffer by not having brand new supplies or clothing like the other children,” Garrett said.

More than 1,000 people attended the carnival, which was organized and staffed by 66 volunteers of all ages from Bucyrus United Methodist Church and the 12-Step program the church sponsors.

*Wolcott is director of communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.