By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: July 2013
Volunteers sort and sack school supplies for Rogers County schoolchildren in need. This will be the 16th year for Claremore First United Methodist Church to coordinate the Rogers County School Supply Drive, which has grown steadily since its inception. One-hundred percent of all donated funds are used to purchase the supplies.
Can you remember your first day of school each August? You were excited because your backpack was filled with new supplies like crayons, pencils and pens, notebook paper and notebooks. The tools you carried helped you get off to a good start.
Within the next four weeks, stores will be posting the lists of classroom supplies each teacher deems necessary for his/her students to learn. Many students, however, won’t have the luxury because their parents can’t afford the supplies needed to send their children back to school prepared to learn.
Replacing outgrown clothing as well as purchasing the necessary supplies to start out the year ready to learn, many families are forced to make choices. With fluctuating gas prices and the increasing cost of food putting a dent in their budgets, parents don’t have many options.
However, 15 years ago, members of the Claremore First United Methodist Church stepped up to help those less fortunate by providing what each child needed to get off to a good start. Last year, the Rogers County School Supply Drive, which is coordinated by the church, provided supplies for 2,741 needy children in the county.
In 2012, children in the following Rogers County schools received assistance through the generous donations of others: Catoosa—162; Chelsea—306; Claremore—1380; Foyil—284; Inola—140; Justus-Tiawah—80; Oologah—139; Sequoyah—179; Verdigris—71.
“Although our church administers the program, we couldn’t do it without the help of many generous churches, individuals, businesses and civic organizations who donate money to help us purchase the supplies each year,” says Ray Dawson, program coordinator. “The number of children seeking help has grown steadily each year since the program began.”
According to Dawson, “the program has no overhead costs. We use the church’s children center for storage and distribution and volunteers provide the workers’ lunch. Every dime contributed goes to purchase supplies because volunteers provide the labor to sort, pack and distribute the backpacks, pencils, pens, notebooks, paper and other supplies.”
To make the most of the donated funds, Dawson uses a bid sheet to get the best prices on the supplies. If there are any funds left over, they are carried over to next year’s supply drive.
“I am concerned this year because a local business who was our largest contributor for the past several years is no longer able to help us. As a result, we must find more help,” he adds.
“In 2012, we were able, with God’s help, to use donations to assist seven more students than in 2011 with 1615.91 less in costs,” he explains. “This is partially due to the help, in the form of low pricing from our friends at Office Everything and Wal-Mart.”
The initial order for supplies must be placed in early July to receive them in time to distribute by August 1, so this is only an estimate of what the needs will be. Therefore, it is particularly beneficial that these local merchants allow surplus items to be returned for credit.
Last year, the total cost of supplying the needs of Rogers County schoolchildren totaled $45,224.73.
“When a child starts school without needed supplies,” says Dr. Ray Crawford, senior FUMC pastor, “they are behind before the first bell even rings. Help a child be successful in school and you will help them be successful in life.”
Any individual, civic organization, church or business that wishes to help defray the costs of this program, a tax-deductible contribution can be sent to the First United Methodist Church with a notation on the memo line, “school supplies.” The church mailing address is 1615 N. Hwy. 88, Claremore, OK 74017.
After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.