Archive for the ‘Brookside’ Category
Maybe you’ve seen the yellow bags in Northview Church’s lobby. Here’s your opportunity to follow the yellow bag’s journey from Northview to home.
Thanks to Dennis McClintock for the photos!
BY MIKE SHADOAN
According to the National Education Association (NEA) website in an article entitled Facts about Child Nutrition, “Missing meals and experiencing hunger impair children’s development and achievement. Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Pediatrics, and the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry document the negative effects of hunger on children’s academic performance and behavior in school. Hungry children have lower math scores. They are also are more likely to repeat a grade, come to school late, or miss it entirely.”
Former Chair of Gleaners Food Bank and current City Mosaic staff member, Carrie Petty knows a thing or two about the fight against hunger. Petty put it bluntly, “One in six Hoosiers are hungry and there is currently no food system for support over holiday breaks. The church must stand in the gap.” Petty also stated, “There is no end in sight to the current hunger crisis and we are heading towards a hunger cliff when government cutbacks come into play. Our food lines are getting longer each month. There are over 5,000 malnourished (kids) in IPS alone.”
This Christmas season, Northview decided to use its Christmas concert to “stand in a gap.” The proceeds from concert ticketing will be used to provide lunches for kids at inner-city schools who aren’t able to get a nutritious lunch during their Christmas break. Northview’s Outreach Pastor Wayland Thompson explained why. “We knew we wanted to make a big impact in the city. We figured that if we charged a small ticket price for the Christmas concert, that due to the popularity of the event, we could make a huge difference in the lives of some of our neighbors on Indy’s east side. We are partnering with Brookside Church and City Mosaic to be more involved in School 54–and through deepening this existing relationship over the last year, we have been able to get to know many of the families, teachers, and administrators. The more you get to know someone, the more you are invited into their lives and see opportunities to be a blessing,” said Thompson.
The Christmas concert raised $20,000. The money will impact over 1,200 kids that attend Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) 54 and 15. Student populations at both schools are over 95% reduced/free lunch which means the majority of students depend on the breakfast and lunch they receive through school as their main source of nutrition for the day. Food boxes will contain items such as tuna, cereal bars, fruit cups, oatmeal, soup and pasta.
Northview’s idea has caught the attention of other organizations in the area. Thompson said, “Because of our partnership with City Mosaic, A Partnership of Churches—the idea that was born at Northview—was shared with the other City Mosaic church partners. One church in particular, Connection Pointe Church in Brownsburg, organized a food drive to coincide with the purchase of the food. The public schools in Brownsburg found out and did a drive for their students at every school in their system.”
Students standing in the gaps for other students…. so how did that work out? Thompson exclaimed, “Not sure how to describe it other than it (food) was stacked seven feet high and covered the entire stage in the Brookside gymnasium.” Thompson also pointed out that other churches were involved at different levels.
Thompson commented on the synergy of the groups involved. “The coolest part of this story is that because churches and communities came together and caught the vision to feed students over the winter break, not all of the money raised from the Christmas concert was needed to purchase food. Because there was so much food donated, we will be able to use some of the money raised to impact the neediest of students over spring break in a few months. It’s so encouraging to see our partnership with City Mosaic bring churches of all different backgrounds together to make an impact for those in need.”
There’s no shortage of gaps to stand in so please consider getting involved. Thompson gratefully concluded, “I am so thankful to be a part of a church that gives so freely. There are so many opportunities to serve at School 54 and Brookside right now. I would invite everyone to come and meet some incredible neighbors in the city.”
BY HEATHER GOBLE-SORRELLS
Christmas shopping, lights, presents and visits to Santa Claus are all underway the last few weeks before Christmas. In all the hustle, bustle and gift-giving madness that consumes us every December, do we ever really stop to think of those who are less fortunate? Or those who are not part of our own family and circle of friends?
Northview’s Christmas Compassion does just that and has caused a shift in the church’s mindset.
This year marked the third annual Christmas Compassion which was born of other Christmas charity drives in prior years–Share the Blessing and Christmas Outside the Box. Through Christmas Compassion, Northview asks church attendees to take a tag from a Christmas tree and buy something listed on the tag. The tags are classified by age group and gender. They list a need, want and family item. Through this drive, Northview was “able to see the thankfulness from each family,” said Shanna Thompson, Northview’s Good Neighbor Coordinator.
These are some of the items families brought back to church to donate: socks, underwear, hats, gloves, clothes, toys, books, board games, diapers, wipes…and a whole host of other items!
The gifts are all going to local families in Hamilton and Marion Counties. Specifically, the gifts go to Life Centers which serve women in crisis pregnancy, Head Start of Hamilton County which provides preschool to underprivileged families, Indianapolis Public School 54, Good Samaritan Network, Brookside Community Church and a few Latino churches in downtown Indianapolis.
“Each of the families receiving the gifts are extremely thankful for each item,” said Thompson.
Leave us a comment! What comes to mind when you see this picture?
BY LIZ HICKMAN
Jamie Wildt came to Brookside Community Church (BCC) in July 2008 seeking a yellow bag of groceries at the BCC food pantry and found the family of God. In no time, Wildt began to learn and grow spiritually and to serve in a variety of ways. Within a couple of years, Wildt was leading BCC’s nursery. Most recently, she took on the additional role of serving as point person to help Life Groups who come from partnering churches to serve on Sundays.
For about seven years, Wildt worked in the Brookside neighborhood foundry grinding steel on automotive engines. She rented an apartment a short walk from BCC and was content being single with two dogs. Last year her teenage daughter Erika moved to Indy to live with her. This event changed Wildt’s perspective. She wanted to offer Erika more than what she’d been settling for. She’d heard BCC Pastor Frank Stone’s vision of moving Brookside Community Church congregants from being renters in the neighborhood to becoming homeowners and she wanted to be a homeowner. Her desire seemed far out-of-reach because her debt was out of control.
Ready for change, Wildt followed God’s roadmap for debt-free living through the Crown Ministries curriculum offered at BCC. She quickly found God’s promises to be true as she moved from the bondage of debt to financial freedom, flexibility and opportunities. Within a few months, Wildt was tithing regularly and putting into action her plan to pay off her outstanding bills. As she demonstrated faithfulness in stewardship, God blessed her with new employment at Safeway Moving Systems through Ed Hart, a member of the Brookside Community Church Board.
The desire for home ownership still seemed to be out of Wildt’s grasp. She was burdened with years of poor credit. It was, however, in God’s hands. He had begun to move upon the hearts of homeowners J.D. and Liz Collar. The couple owned a home not too far from the Brookside community and wanted to sell it. Upon hearing Wildt’s story, they offered to sell her the home and be her mortgage lender. God met Wildt’s need through their generosity to overcome the stumbling block of poor credit that would have kept Wildt from borrowing from a bank to owning her first home.
“The best part about being a homeowner is feeling like my hard work has paid off,” Wildt said.
BY SHERRON FRANKLIN
“During the most important formative phase of a child’s life, many children, today, are without the nurturing, loving influence of a caring father and mother. The results are all around you. Have you noticed the lack of civility in many young people? Have you observed the surly, ‘in your face’ lack of respect for older people and for authority at any level? How did we get to this state of affairs with the next generation? Whose responsibility is it to rear our children anyway? The Scriptures make it very plain: Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’” (J. Davy Crockett III, 2009).
Northview is a charitable church, always doing the work of the God and following the Bible. Northview understands the importance of scripture and duplicating what God has instructed. They do this through a variety of outreaches and with understanding of people’s needs. They reach out to children who might not otherwise be exposed to the kindness of people or introduced to God’s kingdom. Northview realizes how important it is to show others contentment, and especially children.
Mark 10:13-16 (NIV) “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive he kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”
When given an opportunity children will learn and share. The innocence of children is often taken for granted by adults; we need to realize and harvest these moments in their lives. Northview has realized this, which is why they have extended these valuable lessons to a school that might not otherwise experience these gifts.
Shanna Thompson, Northview’s Urban Outreach Coordinator, talked about Northview’s partnership with School 54 in the Brookside Community area, a place where Northview has established relationships and conducts Christian outreach continuously. IPS School 54, also known as Brookside Elementary, is one of the many elementary schools in Indianapolis serving children in grades K through 6. It’s located near Brookside Community Church, where Northview has served for several years in the heart of the Brookside neighborhood. School 54 is home to more than 700 students.
Northview’s passion for the people of the Brookside Community has taken them past simply serving at Brookside Community Church and into investing in the lives of these students. When asked about the impact of Northview in the Brookside Community and why School 54 was chosen as an investment, Thompson shared, “Northview has had an impact in this community through Brookside Community Church for several years now. We are invested in the community and have been a consistent support in the lives of the people who call Brookside Neighborhood their home. It was a very natural fit for us to begin impacting the next generation here in this community.”
Northview has already been having an impact at the school over the last year with more than 10,000 Box Tops collected to help raise money for the school, 750 backpacks (one for every child attending School 54) and multiple other classroom support items such as Kleenex and hand sanitizer. As school began in early August, Northview attendees were there to welcome children back to school, provide backpacks and pray over the entire school building alongside teachers and staff. As you can see, Northview has been giving resources and time. But it is time to simply do more than give, it is time to act … and to have an impact!
Lives can be changed by tutoring a student, being a lunch buddy, reading with a child, or simply supporting a teacher by making copies and cutting items. All that is needed is a willingness to be consistent in the life of a child for 30-60 minutes each week.
Learn more about how you can use your talents to be involved in the next generation! Contact Shanna Thompson: firstname.lastname@example.org.
BY PATTY PERKINS
When asked about her title at Brookside Community Church, Liz Hickman laughs, “I wish I had one. Or, maybe I should say, I wish I had just one!” The truth is, Hickman wears many hats for Brookside Community Church, Northview’s partner church in Indianapolis.
Liz Hickman’s hats have included serving as coordinator of events, volunteers, and women’s ministry. She has served as church administrator and coordinated the meal’s ministry. Some of her roles have emerged during her five years of service, and others she has served as interim.
“Visit anytime at Brookside and you will hear people say they can’t imagine how Liz juggles so many things,” says Northview volunteer, Megan McGuire. McGuire has worked with Hickman for four years, coordinating Brookside’s After School Program and other events for Northview Students. “She is an amazing person, committed to bringing the Kingdom to the neighborhood one day at a time, one life at a time. Her love and encouragement for the community are extraordinary.”
Hickman said the word “helper” best sums up her job with Brookside. She fills in the gap when there’s a need and no one to meet it. Whatever needs to be done–she does!
“Liz has an incredible heart for the congregation, especially the women at Brookside Community Church. She is patient and perseveres through the victories and short comings in the lives of those she serves,” says Shanna Thompson, Northview’s Good Neighbor Coordinator.
Hickman’s most treasured role is helping people in need connect with Jesus Christ. “The joy of ministry is helping people strengthen their connection with Jesus,” says Hickman. “It’s a tough, tough ministry.” Helping people connect with Jesus makes the hard moments worthwhile. The thing that helps her persevere is helping someone strengthen that eternal connection.
“I have seen her celebrate with someone and then have a tough conversation with the same person days later–all in an attempt to point them toward Jesus and away from the things of this world that they struggle with,” says Thompson.
When asked about outside hobbies and interests, Hickman shared that there’s not much time for other things! The ministry is her life.
“Liz lives out Micah 6:8 better than anyone I know. She is a treasure!” says McGuire.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NIV)
Thank you, Liz Hickman, for five years of amazing service. Thank you for standing in the gap...for wearing many hats!
BY SHERRON FRANKLIN
Northview students are always doing projects that better the community. Last year they volunteered for a mission trip to Brookside Church. This year the students are volunteering at Brookside Church by tutoring and working in the food pantry. These teens, who could be doing other teenage activities, found a purpose to serve God and the community by helping insure a better life for someone else.
Led by Megan Mcguire, the teens are driven to Brookside from Carmel every Monday to tutor inner city children. The children love the interaction and are very excited when the Carmel teens arrive. It’s a very warm and loving atmosphere, where Jesus surely smiles when he looks down, to see the innocence of children from different backgrounds interacting without restraints.
McGuire and the kids put together a yearbook to seal the memories of the warm times. “It was chosen because it gave the kiddos an opportunity to collaborate in the process of creating a book to make their after school memories last a lifetime,” McGuire said. “Northview Students and the Brookside teens work together building relationships in the Brookside community by showing grace and giving whatever is needed.”
Five teams serve every Monday afternoon:
1) A tutoring team provides homework help and tutoring in reading and math for K-7 grade students.
2) The pantry team unloads delivery trucks and stocks the shelves in the food pantry. Every Sunday morning after church services at Brookside, families are able to pick-up prepacked yellow bags from the food pantry.
3) A project team does work around Brookside like painting, cleaning or landscaping.
4) The Bible Study team prepares and leads a study and prays with the kiddos in the after school program.
5) The street team walks through the neighborhood to meet families, tell them about Brookside, invite them to Sunday service, and enroll new kids in the after school program.
Several times during the year special events are hosted for the kiddos like Christmas or Halloween Parties. The kids enjoy a field trip to North Beach at Northview’s Carmel campus where they are served dinner and play games.
There are 20-35 students each Monday, between 8th and 12th grades. They and are a combination of Brookside and Northview Students. Many of the students have served weekly for several years. The children from Brookside are K-7th grade and are paired with a tutoring buddy.
The Brookside and Northview students both gain from the shared experience.
“It’s all about relationships. Throughout their time in youth programs at Northview, we instill God’s call to give for the sake of others whether that’s in our youth group venues or in the greater Indy community or across the world. When our students tell a story of God that people connect with, it changes everything,” said McGuire. “The Brookside kiddos feel safe and smart and loved and celebrated. Several of our high school students have shared the gospel and lead kiddos to Christ. The students are urban missionaries making a difference one day at a time, one life at a time – each a small step toward breaking the cycle of poverty in our city.”
Northview students shared about their tutoring experience…
“I volunteer my time at Brookside because it’s a way to serve God and when I volunteer I love being with kids so it’s a win-win. Child-care is something I enjoy doing and I believe that it is something that is God-given. He gave me the ability, opportunities, the love, and the gift to do it. With all that said, it is so much fun for me to be with the kids at such a great partner church like Brookside. In addition, it simply gives me something fun to do.”
“Everyone who I am serving alongside is awesome. Having people who share the same views and who are all there for many reasons yet with a main goal is awesome. It is a place where I can have fun serving and where I can be me. As a group that serves, we have so much fun and I have built many friendships through the team.” Also, at first, I wouldn’t have believed I would’ve built as close relationships with the actual kids I’m tutoring…Knowing all the names and wanting to be around every single one of them would definitely show that I have built solid relationships with the entire Brookside family and I love it.”
“I volunteer because God has set a passion within me to help others. I receive heartwarming love from all the amazing friends that God has given me through my service at Brookside Community Church and I have the satisfaction of obeying Jesus’ command to serve others. I have found friends among the children, staff, and volunteers. These friendships are something that I feel deep within my heart simply because they are the answer to a lonely girl’s prayer; they are a blessing from a loving God.”
“I volunteer at Brookside because I feel it is what God has called me to do, to help others in any way possible. Brookside offers a perfect outlet to let me use my talents to exceed in the goal God has placed in my heart. I often find myself looking at Brookside with an attitude that they need me there, and I am always amazed by how much I need to be there. The kids teach me lessons I thought I already knew, like being responsible, having patience, and above all sticking to Gods’ plan. The kids are like tutors to me on a much different level than any math or science teacher, they teach me to trust God.”
“I have built many relationships by going to the Brookside afterschool program, not just with the kids but with the staff there as well. When I work in the food pantry Tom is always there cracking jokes and watching over us. Tom is like an older brother to me I feel like I can talk to him about anything. Another great relationship I have formed is with the kids themselves. I have been going to Brookside for over a year now and the kids have gotten familiar with me being there. Though I make them do their homework and help them understand we still have fun doing activities like coloring, reading, and even running around in the gym.”
BY DIANA GORIN
We have all had that one teacher at some point in our lives that had something extra. They made us feel special and didn’t care about our grade. They just wanted to see us make progress and achieve the goals we set.
They become our mentor, our friend, and someday when we look back we remember what they meant to us. In IPS #54, where only half the kids are making it to the next grade, it can be easy for people to deem the statistics a lost cause and “no point in trying,” yet that wasn’t the attitude of volunteers from Northview Church’s Carmel campus like Kyle Hardie and Beth Strand.
“This experience has changed me. It has made me re-appreciate teachers, the love for being youthful, the realization that there is a need to help, especially in the inner city school system and the need that kids, besides my own, desire a one on one connection with adult figures. More importantly, it has shown me that possibly the greatest rewards of serving occur when you step the farthest from your own box,” said Kyle, who heard the announcement of IPS 54’s need for reading buddies in the announcement section of the church. After donating that extra hour a week to spend time with third graders in IPS #54, Kyle was able to play a part in helping these children pass IREAD tests in March, which made the difference between making children stepping up to fourth grade, or re-taking third grade.
Last year, only 47 percent of School 54’s third graders passed the test and went on to the fourth grade. “We want to be there to serve… just extra hands in third grade classrooms to support teachers, listen to and read to children, in hopes that we can make a small difference in the upcoming IREAD testing scores and the pass rate to move on to 4th grade,” said Shannon Thompson, urban outreach coordinator for Northview Church. She was able to work with Greg and Beth Strand in CITY MOSAIC to see how all three organizations: CITY MOSAIC, Northview, and IPS 54, could come together and help the inner-city children of Indianapolis.
IPS #54 also goes by the name of Brookside Elementary School, and since the school is only a few blocks away from Brookside Community Church, the children who go to IPS 54 can be reached through Brookside Church. This is perfect for Northview because of School 54’s close proximity to Brookside.
With an 18-1 student teacher ratio, kids have a hard time getting the attention they need to learn how to read. Volunteers are able to fill that gap and listen to children, read to them, and fill in anywhere a person is needed.
“One thing I do know firsthand … these children desperately crave one-on-one time with caring adults. I see the evidence each time I walk into my classroom and students beg to work with me. ‘Can I go? When is it my turn? I never get to go with you.’ These pleas shouted from all corners followed by disappointed faces, moans and groans from students not chosen by the teacher tug at my heart. It never fails,” Beth said.
Relationships with the children don’t stop at being a volunteer. “My relationship is more than a reading helper, and more like a big brother or friend. Reading is the means that allows me the opportunity to show each of the four kids time and interest in their lives,” Kyle said.
The need for help at IPS #54 or Brookside Elementary includes far more than volunteering time with third graders every week; they also need help gathering Box Tops as the school receives 10 cents for every one turned in. Since December 2012, Northview has raised over $500 for IPS 54. To find out more, go to www.northviewchurch.us/boxtops. There will also be an informational meeting Aug. 28, 2013 to find out more how to get involved as well as a backpack drive starting in June for the kids of IPS 54. There is also a need for hand sanitizer and paper towels, which can be left in the Brookside Carts at Northview to be taken to the school.
To volunteer an hour each week, email Shanna Thompson at email@example.com and find out to play a part in helping a third grader pass their IREAD tests.
Beth has had a heart to serve the inner city of Indianapolis for the past 16 years.
“I started as a tutor, mentor and friend to girls in the Brookside neighborhood 16+ years ago through a nearby community center,” she said. “I visited my girls at IPS #54 and other IPS elementary schools on the Near Eastside through the years to celebrate their achievements at awards programs and graduations, to help out on their field trips, and merely to sit by their side in classrooms or to eat lunch with them. Sensing God wanted me more involved in the day-to-day lives of children in the city, I left my job as a writer/editor with a local church in 2004 and searched for the place to live out this calling. Not long after that, I moved into a full-time volunteer role at IPS #54 and eventually a paid position at IPS #43, an elementary school that sits at the intersection of 40th Street and North Capitol Avenue. In late 2010, I left IPS #43, but I can’t not be in these schools, so for the last two years, I volunteered in a kindergarten class at IPS #99.
“Something sacred happens each and every time I walk through the doors of these schools. God gave me a place to be His Church, to shine as His light, to love with His love. Knowing so many heartbreaking, tragic stories, I often wonder how these children drag themselves out of bed in the morning, make their way to school, and focus on learning with the fear, the unknowns, the trauma many endure outside the walls of the school. Their determination to survive against the odds inspires me and their strength despite the monstrous weight they carry on their tiny shoulders, in their precious hearts amazes me. They are my heroes.”
From Beth’s experiences, she has moving stories of two students, Shamar and Destiny, who both want what everyone wants: to be loved.
“One student, Shamar, worked with me every week so far,” Beth said. “Our first time together, he promptly told me as we left his classroom and headed for the library that he passed ISTEP but not IREAD-3. He wanted to make sure I understood that one test, nothing else, held him back from fourth grade. When I arrived the following week, the same thing happened. He stated that he repeated third grade this year only because he failed the IREAD assessment last year. He passed ISTEP. I needed to know that.
“Now last week, Shamar loosened up a bit. He talked more freely, comfortably. He never mentioned his ISTEP or his IREAD results. But he did share a goal with me and three of his classmates, though. He dreams of making the Guinness Book of World Records, a common aspiration of elementary-aged boys that usually involves something very disgusting. What unique ability, skill does Shamar hope to demonstrate? He plans to prove he can wait longer than any other person on the planet to eat his Snickers bar. He just bought it but believes he can hold off until at least the summer, an infinite amount of time to him. He pointed to his prior attempt – a candy bar he purchased last September and held on to until he devoured it in December.
“After a chorus of revulsion spread among the girls, one classmate, Deoshanae, inquired, ‘Was it moldy?’ Shamar paused thoughtfully. ‘It was covered with fuzzy green stuff,’ he replied. After a moment of reflection, he added with a hint of concern, ‘Maybe that’s what made me sick.’
“Not wanting to crush Shamar’s dream or squelch his momentum, I suggested that perhaps waiting that long to eat the candy bar endangered his health. I encouraged him to come up with other creative, yet safe ways to succeed at his self-imposed challenge.
“He peered downward at his book and quietly admitted, ‘I just want to be famous.’
“Don’t we all want to be known? Everyone longs to succeed, to shine. Shamar, like all the children I encounter in IPS holds unlimited potential, so much untapped talent, a wealth of passion, so much raw ability,” she said. “They too dream, hope, desire, yearn. But that fades far too early. They lose their innocence along with their childhood much too young. As the reality of their steep climb sinks in, the seemingly insurmountable barriers confront them, they give up. The pain, the chaos of their world engulfs them. They become invisible. They are lost.
“I want the Shamars, the Deoshanaes, the Juans and the Lailas of my neighborhood to grab hold of God’s truth and grip it tightly, to recognize their worth in Him and walk into the possibilities, and to become God’s reflection, the people He designed each of them to be from the beginning of time.”
“God’s creativity shines brightly as I reflect on my experiences in urban Indianapolis,” Beth said. “This story often comes to mind as a divine demonstration of God’s inherent ability to reveal Himself through our acts of compassion, through our deeds of faith in the absence of words. Inching closer to summer break, I sat on the floor with Destiny, a second grader. I’d spent that entire year volunteering in her classroom, typically all day, every day. While working on a project together, she looked up at me and declared out of the blue and quite confidently, ‘You know … you and me, we got the same daddy.’
“I gazed at her intently for a moment, wondering where this conversation headed. It could go in so many directions. More than curious, I decided to dive in and asked, ‘What do you mean?’
Looking surprised, almost exasperated, that I didn’t seem to understand, she exclaimed with slight indignation, ‘Our daddy is the same – God!’
“With no proclamations of faith or any mention of God on my end, this little 7-year-old saw something in me that told her we share the heavenly Father in common. We are His children. Our race, our socioeconomic status, our age, our background, nothing separates us in His Kingdom. Both of us not only belong to Him, but family, covenant, undivided describes us. We are sisters.
“Destiny moved over the summer. I never saw her again. She is now 13. I suspect our next encounter will take place when we come face to face with our Creator in heaven. There, our sisterhood will blossom in a far richer and deeper fashion than anything this earth offers us. But what a gift it is here as well!
“God gave us all gifts and talents; it’s up to us if we want to use them.”
Kyle said, “God had been laying on my heart to take advantage of Brookside IPS 54 for awhile, and the Sunday announcement was more than just a means by which to be involved, it was a way to give back and pay it forward… my excuse up until now has been ‘I don’t have the time’ on most opportunities, but God has directly provided me with additional time. This has occurred by less office work and/or better use and more efficiency of time. God provides, if you say, ‘yes.’ “
BY JESSE JOHNSON
Most of us (especially those with younger kids) are familiar with the Box Tops programs. They are seen all over products at your local grocery store and subsequently scattered through your home pantry. You might be surprised to learn that since 1996, the Box Tops for Education program has earned over $475 million for American schools with the help of dozens of big-name businesses (Ziploc, Betty Crocker and Kimberly-Clark, to name a few), and hardworking families. The general idea is that the products you regularly buy for your family can contribute to fundraising at your local schools.
School corporations across the country have been using this program to help fund local initiatives and compensate for dwindling public funding, and as reflected by the numbers, it’s been a tremendous success. So when Shanna Thompson, urban outreach coordinator at Northview Church’s Carmel campus, was sitting in on a Community Council meeting at IPS School 54 and heard about the administration’s efforts to collect box tops, she had an idea. What if, instead of giving to your local school, you gave to someone else’s?
“I thought that Box Tops would be an easy way that Northview Church could support IPS School 54,” Shanna explained. “The students at IPS 54 bring in Box Tops, but not that many. Each Box Top turned in equals 10 cents that they receive. Each month they are sent a check based on what they turned in so that they can use the money to purchase needed items for the school.”
So she got to work and began organizing a simple system for collecting Box Tops from Northview to be sent down to school 54. The results have been nothing short of incredible.
“In December, I simply spread the word around the staff, and we gave 343 Box Tops that first month,” Shanna said. “Then, in January, when we announced it to all of Northview, we were able to give 706 – doubling what we had given the month before. Since then, Box Tops has grown! In February, we gave 3,251 and so far in March, we have collected 920 Box Tops.
“This school year, IPS School 54 has seen a 400 percent increase in the Box Tops that they receive,” she continued. “So far Northview has given 5,220 Box Tops, which has earned $522.”
Why give these Box Tops to School 54, rather than schools around the Hamilton County community?
“School 54 is located in the Brookside Neighborhood,” Shanna explained, “just blocks from Brookside Community Church. School 54 is our IPS partner school that we have chosen to adopt and support throughout the year through donations and volunteers.”
“IPS Schools have incredible teachers and staff who work with students from situations that we cannot even begin to imagine. Most of the time all we hear about is their failing test scores and the politics that exist within the district. But the reality is that there are incredible people serving the kids in these schools, and they are doing so out of their own pockets. A program like Box Tops provides a small financial resource to the school to help them continue to serve these children.
“For example, each classroom at School 54 is equipped with a sink, soap dispenser, and paper towel dispenser, but there is no money to provide these resources to each classroom. The money that they earn through Box Tops helps them to have these ‘extra’ items … items that we see as a necessity in our everyday lives.”
Thinking of those necessities helps put the whole situation into a pretty obvious perspective. Just a few minutes out of your day to cut out some cardboard from the items in your pantry, and you could be buying the essentials for a school full of deserving kids. This is a great chance to get your family involved in giving and teach your kids about the importance of local missions. Helping doesn’t take much: just a little time commitment and a place to keep the Box Tops before you bring them to Northview to be donated.
“In our home, we have a small magnetic box on our fridge,” Shanna said. “It’s our spot to put the Box Tops as we use products that have them. From time to time, I grab all the Box Tops and bring them in to Northview. Having this one spot where everyone knows to put them has helped us make sure we’re not throwing out Box Tops on products we use every day. I would encourage the families here at Northview to have a spot where you always put your Box Tops and then grab them when you come to church.”
Sounds simple right? It sure was for the Hanley family here Northview. Working together, they were able to collect over 1,200 Box Tops! That’s $120, using the things they and the people around them already had lying around, which would have otherwise gone into the trash.
Next time you’re debating which brand of granola bars to buy or getting ready to toss out an empty can of green beans, check for the Box Tops label, and make a difference at School 54.
For more information about serving both through Box Tops giving and other volunteer opportunities at IPS School 54, contact Shanna Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
School 54 also accepts the following items year-round, and if you go out to pick some up, look for the Box Tops logo (bonus donation)!
1. Hand sanitizer
2. Paper towels
3. Hand soap
4. Shower supplies (shampoo, conditioner, body wash)
6. School supplies (pencils, paper, scissors, erasers)