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“For the Kingdom of Heaven Belongs to Such as These”

With the last day of a challenging, sometimes surreal school year in our rearview mirror, our children can finally take a breath. Some are looking forward to family vacations. To spending time with friends (and in-person!). To enjoying time at the pool, on the basketball courts, and at camp. To a time of quiet—a rhythm of rest and respite.

Though my own children are now young adults, I can still recall the breathless excitement of that last day of school. I also remember the anticipation of the first day of school each fall (at least before adolescence hit and they began dreading returning to the classroom). When my daughter Jordan was in grade school, back-to-school planning became a ritual of sorts. Methodical by nature, Jordan enjoys the detailed work of organizing. Each fall would bring a flurry of preparation: Showing up for the long-awaited posting of class assignments. Clothes to shop for. Forms to fill out. And, of course, school supplies to purchase, sort, and tuck into a new backpack. Jordan relished all of it.

Somewhere around the 1st of August, we would make our way to Target, amid throngs of other parents and their children, to pick out school supplies. Not just any supplies: Jordan was adamant about securing each and every item on Howard County’s long list. This was well before Amazon entered our lives, so if an item was missing from Target’s shelves, it would go on a special list to hunt down later at other stores.

Selecting those items that could be tailored to taste—backpacks and binders and lunch bags, for example—would be the highlight of our shopping ritual. In the first grade, Jordan’s color preference was bright pink. When she laid all her supplies on her bed that fall, it looked a bit like a bomb exploded in a bubble gum factory.

This fall Jordan moves into her own apartment, and her ritual for preparing to enter the classrooms of Virginia Tech will look quite different. But I cherish the memory of her childhood ritual with no small amount of nostalgia, even as I know many families in our community do not have this sort of back-to-school experience. Instead, many parents will worry about how to provide these essential supplies to their children, among their other financial obligations. When you’re worried about how to pay for rent, utilities, and groceries, things like notebooks and pens take a back seat.

Under Christ Church’s ongoing partnership with Lake Elkhorn Middle School, principal Melissa Shindel has asked for our support in providing school supplies for 125 children for the upcoming school year. Why does the school need our help with this?

With more than 50 percent of LEMS students qualifying for free and reduced meals—the highest percentage amongst Howard County middle schools—families are stressed. And with the lowest discretionary budget in the county (a mere fraction of that of many schools), LEMS is not positioned to help provide supplies to its students. Additionally, our own LEMS Ministry’s current budget goes primarily to our ongoing support to the Weekend Food Program, where, with your generous support, we provide groceries to 10 families each month who are experiencing food insecurity.

No parent should have to decide between buying groceries and supporting their child’s educational needs. And no child should walk into school without the essential resources for learning: pencils, pens, notebooks, folders, rulers—the mere basics our children need to be able to focus on their education. These are the children of our community, and in supporting them, we live into our baptismal vows to seek and serve Christ in all people. To love our neighbors as ourselves. To strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.

We request your generous support now for this important effort. The school wants to distribute the supplies the week of Aug 16th. With the tight timeline, rather than trying to manage the complex logistics of collecting supplies from parishioners, we will need to rapidly raise funds to purchase exactly what’s needed. To meet this goal, we need to raise $5,000 by mid-July.

As your Deacon now for just under a year, I’ve learned much about the generous nature of our parishioners in helping those underserved in our community. I’m also well aware that we ask for support for many different ministry efforts—and that some of us may find our own personal budgets stretched this year. Please know that Father Manny and I are truly grateful for your giving spirits. Any amount you can contribute to this effort would be greatly appreciated.

This year, two parishioners have graciously stepped up to lead this initiative: Cathy Whittaker and Onyx Williams. We are grateful for their commitment to this cause. If you’d like to help them with shopping and bagging supplies, we hope to purchase the supplies between July 11-24 and fill the bags on a morning between July 25-30. If you have questions or would like to help, let us know at

Contributions for this effort can be made via check, online, or via text. If you’d like to write a check, please make sure you indicate “LEMS School Supplies” on the memo line. If you would like to give online, please also write "School Supplies" in the Memo line. For giving via computer/tablet: you can find our "Support Christ Church" button at the top of every page on our website, or you can click here. On the form, choose "LEMS" from the Fund drop-down menu. To give via text: text CECGIVING to 73256 to give using your mobile device.** You'll immediately receive a link to our form. Click the link, then choose "LEMS" from the Fund drop-down menu. Please also write "School Supplies" in the Memo line so that your donation is used as you wish.

My brothers and sisters, may we bear in mind the words of our great teacher Jesus: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14)

May we walk in love and Christ loves us. Thank you for all you do for Christ Church, for our community and to lift up all of God’s beloved children.

~ Deacon Denise

**(Note: This number will never send you unsolicited texts. To cancel further messages, text STOP. If you need assistance with text giving, text HELP. Standard text message & data rates may apply.)


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