One of the main ways Grace Church reaches the community is through our partnership with Keyser Elementary School. This partnership, which began in 2006, is an opportunity for Grace Church to connect with and serve the students and families in the community surrounding the church, as well as the staff and teachers at the school. Our belief that God blesses His people in order that they become a blessing to others has been the catalyst to our journey in adopting a school. Our goal in partnering with Keyser is to be God’s presence and blessing to the staff, students, and families of the school, as well as the community in the neighborhoods surrounding our church. Relationship is key to all that we do with the school and community.
Our hope is that other churches in our area will partner with local schools, serving the students, staff, and families of those schools in a way that demonstrates the love of Jesus. We are excited to see that this has already begun to happen. At the beginning of the 2015/2016 school-year there are 22 school/church partnerships! So what does a church-school partnership look like? It will look a little different for each partnership as each church discovers the needs of their partner school, and then partners with God’s Spirit as they look to His leading in how to meet those needs.
What the Partnership has Accomplished
This is what it has looked like for Grace Church:
• In-school reading tutors. Tutors spend one hour a week with the same two students for the full school year.
• Help with resources (people and financial, as needed) for events such as open house, honors awards programs, parents’ nights, special programs, Scholastic book fair, classroom projects, field trips, field days, etc.
• In 2007, we opened a school supply pantry for the teachers, providing school supplies for their classrooms. We learned that public school teachers purchase a large amount of the supplies needed for their classrooms with their personal finances. The pantry is funded and supplied by our congregants through school supply drives, grants, and through profit from the Scrips program. The pantry is open to the teachers once a month through the school year. The pantry enables us to serve teachers, students, and families. We provide backpacks with supplies to those students in need who do not get resources elsewhere. Over the next few years we partnered with Epiphany Lutheran Church and The University Church to expand the reach of the school pantry to include teachers from Hawkins and Reynolds schools. We serve approximately 70 teachers representing almost 1200 students.
• We host events to connect with families from the school and the neighborhood, such as a neighborhood picnic or a children’s bike repair event.
• Grace Church serves as a resource to the school to help meet the physical needs of families and students. We connect them with the TAM clearinghouse and other ministries and agencies in town to meet their needs, and partner with Epiphany Lutheran to provide Thanksgiving food baskets, among other activities.
• We partner with the parent organization to assist and support parental participation and promote positive family activities.
Through the partnership between Grace Church and Keyser Elementary, God has opened doors for a number of ministry opportunities:
• Sunday Morning Bus Ministry. Children are picked up for church at Southgate Woods Apartments, at their homes, or dropped off by relatives. Breakfast is served before church.
• Youth Haven Ranch. A ministry for children from disadvantaged homes where they experience the love of God in a safe and fun camp environment. We provide groups of ten children with weekend trips throughout the school year and week long trips during the summer.
• Grace Church co-hosts the City of Toledo’s annual Fishing Derby at Sleepy Hollow Park in July.
• We provide space in our church buildings for use by neighborhood block watches and other community-focused events.
• Grace Church partners with Epiphany Lutheran Church and The University Church to expand the reach of The School Supply Pantry to include teachers at Hawkins and Reynolds Elementary Schools.
How You Can Help
The needs of these children, teachers, and families are real, and there are many ways in which you can help support Grace Church’s mission to build a community to reach a community. Here are just a few:
• Purchase gift cards through the Scrips program. A percentage of each gift card purchase is returned to the church and all proceeds fund our outreach ministries.
• Purchase school supplies for The School Supply Pantry. Lists are available in the church office.
• Sign up for Kroger Community Rewards. A percentage of purchases goes to the church and funds outreach. Call the church office at (419) 535-0060 for instructions.
• Donate your used HP, Dell, or Lexmark printer ink cartridges. We receive $3.00 in school supplies for each cartridge turned in.
• Purchase food items for our Sunday morning bus ministry. Lists are available in the church office.
- Drive children to Youth Haven on Fridays or Sundays throughout the school year.
- Tutor Kindergarten through 3rd grade students in reading on hour per week at the school.
For more information on how you can get involved, contact Mary Brack, Director of Local Mission & Outreach. You can reach her in church office at (419) 535-0060 x.112, or send her an email by clicking here.