By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: July 2015
Volunteers prepare school supply bags for those in need. Ray Dawson, program administrator, is pictured in the blue T-shirt. “All funds donated go directly to the purchase of supplies with the program being administered completely by volunteers,” he says.
Before July is over, area stores will begin posting classroom supply lists. While some may take for granted a new backpack filled with crayons, pencils, pens, notebook paper, notebooks and other school supplies, many students might be returning to school next month empty handed if it were not for the benevolence of Rogers County citizens and businesses who donate their money and time to ensure no child is unprepared for class.
Seventeen years ago, members of the Claremore First United Methodist Church stepped up to help those less fortunate by providing what each child would need to get off to a good start. “Many students won’t have the luxury of starting school prepared with supplies because their parents can’t afford them,” says Ray Dawson, program coordinator. “Students need the right supplies to go back to school prepared to learn. The learning tools we take for granted can become an added burden to an already stretched family budget.”
Last year, the Rogers County School Supply Drive, which is coordinated by the church, provided supplies for 3,057 needy children in the county, an increase of 156 children from the previous year.
In 2014, children in the following Rogers County schools received assistance through the generous donations of others: Catoosa—185 Chelsea—343; Claremore—1,428; Foyil—256; Inola—139; Justus-Tiawah—145; Oologah—182; Sequoyah—278; Verdigris—101.
“Last year,” says Dawson, “we were able to keep the average cost per child at $15.12 for a total of $46,206.58. 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,” he stresses. “The number of children seeking help has grown steadily each year since the program began.”
According to Dawson, every cent donated to the program is used to buy school supplies at the best possible price using a bid sheet to purchase from several suppliers depending on who has the best price. Volunteers do all the work and the church allows the use of their children’s center to pack and distribute the supplies.
“We have set our goal for the 2015-2016 year at $50,000. The initial order for supplies must be placed in early July to receive them in time to distribute by August 1, so we can only estimate what the needs will be. We won’t have the funds when we order, but for 17 years, God has supplied them before the bills come due,” Dawson adds.
“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 wishing to help defray the costs of this program, can mail a tax-deductible contribution to 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.
For more information, contact
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.
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