Every summer, Love INC reaches out to local area schools to ask teachers to identify students needing extra support before another school year begins.
And every summer, local churches and businesses step in to fill that gap and provide support through hundreds of backpacks and thousands of school supplies.
This year has been a little different, thanks to COVID-19.
But not different in the negative way you are probably thinking. In fact, we have been able to watch the local church ramp up their already existing relationships with area schools during this school project, and it has been so awesome to watch.
As many churches changed how they operated due to the pandemic, we proactively investigated the already formed connections many churches have with other organizations like Hand2Hand, Kid’s Hope and Spark. Asking those churches specifically to meet the needs of the students they already knew at a neighboring school was something these churches were excited to participate in, even during a pandemic.
With the church owning it, almost all 750 students will receive a brand new backpack and grade specific school supplies when they arrive to school in the fall, without anyone at Love INC even having to pack a backpack. Bags will be heading straight from churches to local schools, with Love INC just helping make the connection.
This is what Love INC is here to do. Provide awareness to needs, connections to have churches meet them, and continue striving for stronger, dignified relationships through it all.
But that’s not the end of the project. There are 40 students who we know personally through Love INC’s Life Skills Communities, who have registered to receive clothing in addition to their school supplies. Is anyone having nostalgia about back to school shopping yet?
We could have easily asked for sizes and favorite colors of each student, and then thrown it all into a bag to have families pick up. That would be an efficient and easy way to get the need met.
But instead, we ask ourselves- is this a dignified way to serve? And, of course, we remember that back-to-school nostalgia. We live into both of these by providing a “store” type shopping experience where Life Skills parents and kids come to Love INC and shop brand new clothes and brand new backpacks and school supplies. Providing a way for each student to choose is one more tweak we have made to elevate each person’s dignity, and give families joy, even during a hard time in their lives.
This store experience is only possible with the help of individual donors signing up to provide that clothing to shop! (Sign up here!) Link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040449a9a729a0fa7-back
Not only do kids shop for themselves, but we ask them to be part of packing backpacks for other kids, for any students who may not have already been “adopted” by an area church. Not only are they having a fun shopping experience but now they get to contribute, as we believe every person has something to offer. And asking people to help, even while they are in need, is an opportunity that we believe God desires every person to have.
This project isn’t just a project.
And greatest of all, it’s Love.