National Volunteer Week: Filling in the gaps
Budget cuts have limited school supplies and faculty incentives at Carver Elementary School, but members of Cokesbury United Methodist Church have stepped up to fill in the gaps.
The church's Monday Night Power Group — a mission devoted to praying and uplifting its fellow church members — adopted Carver at the beginning of the school year.
"We prayed about it and asked God to lead us to do the best work where we could, and Carver was one of those places," mission group leader Tracy Atkinson said. "They just do not have a whole lot of support. Our mission is to just give them some light and let people know that we do care about them.”
Since the beginning of the school year, the group has raised more than $1,000 in money and supplies. Contributions included student health care kits and teacher appreciation baskets.
In addition, the Monday Night Power Group sends church members at least once a week to read to children and help keep classes organized during the lunch hour.
“I think it gives the teachers a few free minutes a day,” said Marie Newhouse, a lunchtime volunteer and member of Cokesbury United Methodist. “They are there all day long, and sometimes they are with the kids a whole eight hours. There really isn't a lot of time for one-on-ones that the kids may need.”
Their work isn't just on the inside, however; volunteers from Cokesbury also provide regular upkeep for the Carver campus.
Principal David Westbrook said he appreciated efforts to pick up trash, wash windows and plant flowers that “beautify the school.”
"The state has cut a lot of the personnel,” he said. “Having extra volunteers at hand is really helpful for getting things done.”
Along with providing services to the school, Pastor Julia Alliger is pleased with how her place of worship has developed in the community.
“The church has really worked on having an eternal focus and being a part of the brighter community,” she said. “When we do our activities now, we don't just think about what we want, but we think about what the community needs.”
The Cokesbury Methodist Church is dedicated to keeping their efforts consistent.
“That happens with a lot of mission work; you do a little and that's it,” Atkinson said. "We keep working to let the kids know we haven't forgot about them. We are still here, and we are still going to do stuff."
The church is currently working on grant funding that will continue the backpack buddies program that sends children home with nutritious foods. They have already committed to do more outdoor work on the campus.
The church encourages people to get involved with Carver Elementary to give it the attention that it deserves.
“Just be a friend to a student,” Newhouse said. “Sometimes that it is all they need.”
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