City churches ‘adopt’ schoolsBy HASKEL BURNS,
It’s often said that churches and their members are the pillars of the community, and several churches throughout Petal are showing exactly why they’ve earned that reputation.
Members of Petal First Baptist, Summit, Asbury United Methodist, Macedonia Baptist, Petal-Harvey Baptist and Carterville Baptist churches have “adopted” schools throughout the Petal School District, providing students and families with needed supplies, food, clothing and other necessities.
Petal First Baptist Church is assisting Petal Primary School with food backpacks, helping to send children home over the weekend with two breakfasts, two lunches, two suppers and snacks. In addition to the school year, the church continues its backpack program over the summer as well.
“Matthew 25 tells us that if we give a cup of water in Jesus’s name to a child, then we have given it to Jesus,” pastor Brad Eubank said. “So our intent is to bless our city and the community in as many different ways as we can, and to help families know that not only does the Lord care, but his people care about them and where they are.
“Our desire is to be not a handout, but a hand-up. So hopefully this will help them get to the next step, and provide a little financial boost by not having to buy that extra food, and being able to use (the funds) to buy other things that are necessary.”
Through their partnership with Petal High School, members of Carterville Baptist Church are able to help furnish the school’s pantry with food supplies, pencils, backpacks and hygiene items. The church also occasionally provides meals to teachers throughout the year, hands out water and candy to students, and provides gift cards from time to time.
“If we can encourage students to succeed at school, if we can encourage teachers to succeed in educating the students – that’s our mission,” student pastor Jeremy Stroo said. “We love our schools, we love our teachers, we love our students, and we want to do what we can to help them succeed.
“We want the pantry to provide any need that’s out there for students that are going home and doesn’t have deodorant, or a toothbrush or toothpaste, or doesn’t have anything to eat. They’re not going to be able to enjoy the school year, and it’s going to make it really hard, so we want to try to minimize as much of that as we can.”
Macedonia Baptist Church is providing Petal Upper Elementary School with items such as clothing, shoes, belts and food backpacks.
“Our partnership with Macedonia Baptist Church has enabled us to meet our students’ physical needs, as well as just supporting them as learners,” principal Emily Branch said. “They support our teachers with encouraging notes and goodies throughout the year, just to help our teachers feel supported. They know that they’re loved and appreciated by people in our community.”
Petal Middle School is being supported by Petal-Harvey Baptist Church, which provides clothing, food, uniforms, school supplies and class/activity fees for students. Church members also bring random gifts, such as cookies and lunch, for the faculty and staff.
“It’s a tremendous help,” principal Michael Hogan said. “They’re always there willing to help, especially for the students. Whenever a need comes up, they’re always willing to help.”
Summit Church and Asbury United Methodist Church have adopted Petal Elementary School, where they provide supplies similar to the other churches.
“Petal Elementary School is fortunate to receive the support from two of our local congregations, Summit Church and Asbury United Methodist,” principal Wyn Mims said. “Hometown values are played out in the partnership between our school and churches through personal volunteers, packing weekly food baskets for children, uniform drives, support for teachers through meals and goodie bags, and most of all prayer throughout the year.
“Knowing we have specific people working toward the same goal to not only meet educational health needs, but physical and social needs, is extremely comforting. Petal Elementary School is blessed to partner with such giving people who give freely of their time and money.”
In recognition of the churches’ help, members of the various churches were honored with plaques during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Petal School District Board of Trustees.
“One of the things I get asked a lot in my role as I go across the state, is why does Petal achieve so much success day in and day out,” superintendent Matt Dillon said. “My first answer is always our people.
“Our people consists of our faculty, staff and students, but it also consists of our community. And I can tell you that this is my fifth district, and I’ve never seen it quite like this. I’ve never seen it where the churches come in and what they do behind the scenes like this, where many people might not be aware of it.”