Church giving free school supplies

Lisa Depies
Rebecca Lipes of Victory Church of Christ in Geneseo displays a sampling of the school supplies church members will give out on Aug. 7.

For parents, the cost of paper, pens, crayons, folders and more can rapidly add up as their children head back to school.

Members of?Geneseo’s Victory Church of Christ hope to lessen the burden for area families.

From 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 7, school supplies will be distributed to anyone who stops by the church, located at 535 E. Locust.

“We don’t turn anyone away, and we don’t ask anyone about their income,” said church member Lea Davis.

The giveaway originally started when Victory’s congregation was part of Geneseo’s Church of Christ.

When the church split, the back-to-school giveaway was put on hiatus. In 2006, the community service project was re-launched by the Victory Church of Christ congregation.

“In the past, we would give out school supplies and clothing,” said Davis. “We’d go to garage sales and ask sellers to donate their leftover clothes. We’d also purchase additional clothing, if needed.”

The clothing portion of the giveaway “was very labor intensive” said Davis. “We would literally use just about every available free space in the church to store clothing.”

With several of the program’s volunteers facing other commitments, Davis said those who ran the giveaway found themselves short of manpower.

“After much prayer, we decided to change our focus to just school supplies,”?she said.

Church members donate supplies in addition to money, which allows event organizers to group donated items into appropriate grade-level bundles.

“We will take the funds we have and, using the church’s tax-exempt number, buy school supplies in bulk,”?said Davis. “We use the Geneseo school lists to fill as many bags for the different grade levels as possible.”

Though high-ticket items such as calculators aren’t included in what the church purchases, members try to purchase nearly everything else on the supply list.

Church members may purchase items only from the Geneseo list, but the giveaway isn’t limited to Geneseo students.

“We have families come in from Annawan, Kewanee and Cambridge. We’ve found their school supply lists are almost identical to Geneseo’s,” said Davis.

In addition to giving away school supplies, each Geneseo student who participates in the giveaway will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win one of several one-month lunch accounts.

Victory Church of Christ will provide enough funds to pay for a month of meals at the school. The money will be given directly to the school in the child’s name.

The back-to-school giveaway is a large event for Victory Church of Christ’s 50 member congregation.

“I’d say we have 100 percent participation in this from our congregation. If they can’t physically be here the day of the giveaway, they support us either financially or by praying for us or helping to spread the word,” said Davis.