By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: July 2014
Volunteers sort and sack school supplies for Rogers County schoolchildren in need. This will be the 17th year for Claremore First United Methodist Church to coordinate the Rogers County School Supply Drive, which has grown steadily since its inception.
Some may take for granted a new backpack filled with crayons, pencils, pens, notebook paper, and other school supplies. However, many students might go back 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.
Within the next four weeks, stores will be posting the lists of classroom supplies each teacher deems necessary for his or 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. The learning tools we take for granted can become an added burden to an already stretched budget.
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.
Sixteen 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, coordinated by the church, provided supplies for 2,901 needy children in the county, an increase of 160 children from the previous year. In 2013, children in the following Rogers County schools received assistance through the generous donations of others: Catoosa – 206; Chelsea – 288; Claremore – 1,456; Foyil – 255; Inola – 134; Justus-Tiawah –100; Oologah – 141; Sequoyah – 226; and Verdigris – 95.
“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.”
“When you contribute to this program,” he adds, “you can be sure that every penny donated is used to buy school supplies at the best possible price. We use a bid sheet and buy from several suppliers, depending on who has the best price. Volunteers do all the work and the church lets us use their children’s center to pack and distribute the supplies. We are also able to use their stationery for fundraising mailing, at no cost to the program. If we don’t spend all the money, it is carried over in a special account in the church for use on school supplies the next year.”
Because the program didn’t receive as much money in donations as was spent last year, the reserve funds were depleted. “We now need to set our goal for the 2014-2015 year at $47,000. 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 16 years God has supplied them before the bills come due,” Dawson says. Last year, the total cost of supplying the needs of Rogers County schoolchildren totaled $45,230.79
“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. Remember, every penny donated goes toward the needs of Rogers County schoolchildren.
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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.