STRATHMORE, ALBERTA (September 3, 2010) – The director of children’s ministries at Hope Community Covenant Church and a church member initiated conversations last year with three principals to ask how the congregation could serve their elementary schools.
Christin Dewald and Alicia Peterson received the same two answers every time. The principals were concerned about hungry kids before school and safety after school.
Those conversations led to three major initiatives by church members that are entering their second year. Hope Community now provides an after-school program and serves a “School Fuel” breakfast every morning before classes. Members also were inspired to start a local Boys & Girls Club.
Hope Community moved their weekly elementary Club56 program out of the church facility and into the school gyms. By the school year end, a solid group of 40-60 students in grades 5 and 6 were participating in fun relationship-oriented activities after school on Wednesday afternoons.
In just a matter of months, the church also launched its “School Fuel” ministry to serve breakfast in the elementary schools. They began by collecting several freezers. One Friday morning a month, members bake thousands of muffins and store them in the freezers. Seventeen people sliced 17 cases of donated cheese from a grocery store to be used throughout the year.
Word spread and soon hungry kids were arriving daily – and early – for a breakfast snack of cheese, muffins, and fruit. More than 100 volunteers from Hope Community and the town are involved.
Individuals drive by church every morning to pick up the day’s food, spend 20 minutes with the kids and then return to the church. The programs have been so successful that a fourth school has been added for this year.
The breakfasts are funded entirely by donations and cost between $500 and $1,000 each month depending on what other items are offered. The church has raised $10,000 from businesses and individuals since last November.
“Our desire is to love every child in Strathmore,” says Dewald. “The afterschool Club56 and School Fuel breakfast program gave us a great opportunity to bring the love of Jesus to many at-risk children who may have never set foot in our building.”
The discussions also led Hope member Isa Sinclair and three other members to start a Boys & Girls club. To further the project Sinclair enlisted the help of three friends at a Lutheran church who had experience with the organization.
The group formed a committee and was sponsored by a neighboring club. Nine months later, they started the local club, which held an eight-week long summer camp.
This fall, the club is initiating an afterschool program and leadership training to be held several days a week.
Pastor Roger Gilbert said he looks forward to all of the initiatives reaching even more people as the congregation continues to serve the community.