Local church brings hope to children’s education

Published 10:18 am Thursday, July 23, 2009

IRONTON — During hard economic times, people make budget cuts.

Whether it’s cutting the fitness center, cable TV or dining out — something has got to go.

However, one thing you never want to cut is your child’s education and St. Paul Lutheran Church is making sure that you don’t have to do just that.

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While it is easy to think that the major education expenses don’t come until college, people often forget how expensive elementary students’ supplies are.

It is for this reason that Pastor David Ritchie of the St. Paul Lutheran Church and the First United Methodist Church are teaming together to sponsor the 5th annual Tools 4 School and SummerFest.

Taking place Aug. 8 at 10 a.m., families with children can come to Center Street between Fifth and Sixth streets to get a brand new backpack filled with all the supplies needed to start the school year off on the right foot.

The child gets to pick out his own backpack but the backpacks can only be given to the children of families — if the child is not present, the family can not receive a backpack.

According to Ritchie, it is apparent in the child’s eyes how thankful and happy the child is. He also says that you can see their self esteem rise.

The project started because of the need to assist Lawrence County children in obtaining school supplies.

Students without them will not be able to learn as well and can be often ridiculed, Ritchie said.

“We have found that there is just a great need out there especially in the economic situation we’re in now,” he said. “People can’t afford to buy groceries, let alone school supplies.”

The past several years, people have lined up as early as 6 a.m. to get a backpack. Ritchie said that he hopes people will not do that again this year: waiting in the heat tends to make people irritable and prone to exhaustion.

Exhaustion would ruin the experience, as there will be free food, inflatable toys, and face painting for families to enjoy.

All of this, however, may have depressing undertone if the community doesn’t step up in the next few weeks to donate money or supplies.

“It is becoming a community event but it needs to be more strongly supported by the community as a whole,” Ritchie said. “We’re still kind of struggling trying to find the money.”

Ritchie said that they have about half of what they need. Donations can be brought to St. Paul Lutheran Church, located at 101 S. Sixth Street. Call (740) 532 – 4727.