The Vine provides school supplies for Central Elementary students
About 90 Central Elementary students had all their school supply needs met at an event Saturday sponsored by The Vine in Waynesville.
Wendy Goode, the church’s community outreach director, planed the Vineval, which offered game and craft stations, face painting and food to those showing up to pick up supply bags.
“When I volunteered at Haywood Christian Ministry, every September there were parents who would say they had to use their electricity money to buy school supplies and clothes,” she said. “If you are living paycheck to paycheck, it is just not something you have in your budget.”
The church began working with Central Elementary to help get supplies for children several years ago. The first year, supplies were provided for 30, and the program has grown each year.
Goode gets the class supply list from each teacher at the school and then congregation members are asked to purchase every item listed. It costs between $25 and $30 to fill each bag, she said, depending on the grade level. The church buys a plain backpack for each child. When students come to the Vineval, they work with church volunteers to select an iron-on patch or other decoration, which is added as the student watches.
“This alleviates the strain of costs for families so they can still pay their bills, and second-fold, kids won’t show up at school without their supplies. That’s why we do it before school starts,” Goode said.
Parents pre-register their students before the event so a supply bag can be prepared especially for them.
Before they pick up their supply bag, students can enjoy carnival games such as a ring toss, several craft stations, miniature golf, a face-painting station, a mystery-box and a Jesus Hill booth where they can get bandages placed or wrapped in the places where Jesus had wounds during the crucifixion.
They were events the children definitely enjoyed.
Church youth volunteers Audrey Fish and Sarah Hart were stacking aluminum cans as quickly as students could knock them down with a soft ball. Michaela Harris enjoyed a try at the “mystery box” game.
“She’s stayed home all summer with her 3-year-old sister,” said her mom, Bridgette, “so she’s not used to being around other kids her age yet. She’ll have to get back into that setting.”
For Edith Putnum, the event was a godsend that helped her get the needed school supplies for her first-grader.
“When you live on a fixed income and get paid once a month, it’s hard,” she said. “I like this a lot and that they are doing it for the kids.”
Cheryl Fulghum, whose husband, Owen, is the pastor at The Vine, said the event is one of several the church does annually.
“Any time a church can reach outside of its doors, it makes a good statement for who we represent,” she said.
The church also puts together a “garage free” event where anyone can donate items they no longer want which are then made available to people who do want or need them.
Goode would like to see the school supply program something that’s more widely available.
“It’s a huge dream for this to be a countywide event where all the schools are invited or for a church to do this for a particular school,” she said.
The Vine is located at 188 Depot St., in Waynesville. It’s web page describes the church as “a community of people learning to love God, one another and our neighbors (both near and far) and we are learning to live in the way of Jesus — to become a blessing for all of creation.”