This article was originally shared December 2019.
Sometime before Thanksgiving 2018, a young teacher from North Charleston Elementary School, Vannessa Oldland, made a request during a St. Timothy’s church service. She suggested anyone thinking of replacing an artificial Christmas tree might want to donate it to her school. She, and other teachers, thought having lit trees in the school throughout Advent might be a wonderful experience for the students, many of whom would not have Christmas trees in their homes.
St. Timothy’s members quickly donated trees and lights, which were displayed in the main hallway of the school. The students were excited to decorate the trees and expressed their appreciation for being able to see them as they walked through the halls to class.
That December, Vannessa attended a Christmas party, which some St. Timothy’s parishioners also happened to attend. She expressed the joy she had as she watched her students hang Christmas balls and garlands on the donated trees St. Timothy’s had provided. When asked, she shared her wish for the New Year—to see the St. Timothy’s church community become involved with students of North Charleston Elementary, on a regular basis. Her special concern was for the students from low-income families. As a starting point, Vannessa suggested St. Timothy’s consider providing backpacks filled with essentials, which, on average cost about $60.00, an amount out of reach for many of her students’ families.
Since that Christmas party, the people of St. Timothy’s have embraced this opportunity to bless the children of North Charleston Elementary. By August 2019, they had collected enough money to provide 10 fully equipped backpacks. Although the school year is now well underway, they continue to gather money for additional backpacks and needed clothing for new students who arrive mid-year, as a result of foster home placement or family relocation.
St. Timothy’s saw a need and acted to meet it—and a new ministry, “Vannessa’s Locker,” was born.
As this ministry continues to grow, St. Timothy’s encourages church members to pray daily for students, teachers, and staff. There are also opportunities for parishioners to assist students with remedial reading and math, class trips, storytelling, and holiday parties—roles which require time, training and commitment. Although a volunteer team has not yet been formed, several church members share the goal of becoming equipped and qualified to serve these students in the new year.
The people of St. Timothy’s are excited to see how God is using them to reach children and families in their community. With God’s grace, 2020 will be a year of exciting prospects for the students, and this congregation will continue to be blessed, as they serve the children of North Charleston Elementary.