A few days before the start of the 2012 school year, Director of Christian Education, Crystal Fox, and I made the first delivery of Operation Supply Train to the Indian Valley Middle School in Tuscarawas, Ohio. We delivered a total of 24 backpacks (eight for each of the three grade levels) filled with specific supplies needed for each grade plus six cartons full of general supplies which will be needed by students and teachers in all three grades.
Operation Supply Train grew out of the realization that state school funding has been cut every year for the past few years so that more and more expense was being transferred to the parents. We also realized that the economic situation in Tuscarawas County is not the best and therefore there would be many parents who simply could not afford the necessary supplies. Also, with the cut in state funding the amount of money available to provide general classroom supplies has been drastically cut and the teachers have had to make up the difference out of their own pockets.
The Sharon Moravian Church Board of Elders saw this as a mission opportunity in our own back yard. The Christian Education Committee agreed and joined with the Elders in sponsoring this local mission. It was a joy to see the smiles and hear “Oh my, look at all this” when we took the supplies into the school office conference room. Principal Brent Carter couldn’t thank us enough.
“I just wanted to say “thank you” again on behalf of the entire Middle School for your thoughtfulness and generosity!” said Principal Carter in a note to the congregation. “The backpacks and school supplies will go a long way with helping so many of our students prepare for the upcoming school year. It is nice to be thought of and reached out to…thank you!!”
I feel it is important to note that there is nothing with any of the items to identify them as coming from our congregation as the motive for our outreach was not for personal reward. And besides, in Matthew 6:3-4 Jesus says: “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” In conversation with Principal Carter I’ve indicated that if anyone should ask where these backpacks and supplies have come from to simply say, “from your friends at Sharon Moravian Church.”
The Indian Valley School District also has a “Brave’s Closet” at our Middle School for the entire district. The purpose of the Brave’s Closet is to distribute used or new clothing and coats to the students, Kindergarten- Grade 12, of the district who are in need. They also try to provide new shoes any student in need. This year the Sharon Moravian Church will continue our partnership with the Indian Valley Middle School as we collect clothing and shoes for the Brave’s Closet as our mission project for Advent.
As a congregation it is an honor to join with our school system so that no child in our middle school will be without supplies this school year.
Operation Supply Train is not over for this school year. Principal Carter and I will be in contact as we journey through the school year as to what supplies may still be needed or replenished. What a wonderful way for us to share the love of Christ with our community and its children.
The Rev. Denny Rohn is pastor of Sharon Moravian Church in Tuscarawas, Ohio.
From the November 2012 Moravian Magazine