From T. R. Williams:

Today I am excited to tell you about a new program getting started this year in the south end of Lawrence County.

Twelve local churches, so far, representing every denomination, are working together to help students at Leoma, South Lawrence, and Loretto High School with a 2017-18 back-to-school outreach called Give a Kid a Chance. The goal is to expand the program county-wide in time for 2018-19.

Give a Kid a Chance got its start with two Georgia churches about two decades ago. Atlanta churches brought it to that metropolitan area, and it has expanded into parts of Texas and Alabama. Florence, Alabama churches have sponsored the program for 15 years, and assist about 800 students annually.

The purpose is to help students from kindergarten to 12th grade get ready for school, a process that’s estimated to cost parents $300 per child. Those signed up for the program receive a backpack full of school supplies; new shoes; a bible; vision, dental, and hearing screening; and a haircut.

“We want to get this information to the parents who need it most,” says Paul Dyar, pastor of Busby Church of God and a board member of Give a Kid a Chance Lawrence County. Pastors from participating churches will be at the three south-end schools during parent-teacher conferences March 27, distributing sign-up sheets.

Here’s where you come in: If you know a family that needs this assistance, please make sure they get the form filled out, returned to their school, or mailed to P.O. Box 74, Loretto. Those who need it most may miss this article or the distribution at school.

Anyone can download and print the sign-up form at the organization website, Giveakidachancelc.org. It requires a child’s name, gender and ethnicity, grade, and shoe size. A parent/guardian is required to sign as assurance that the child doesn’t receive this same help from another agency.

Offer to return it to their school or mail it for them before the May 12 deadline. If anyone has questions they can email giveakidachance.lc@gmail.com, or call 931-225-8523. You can “like” and follow the organization on Facebook at GAKAC Lawrence County or Twitter: @GAKACLC.

Parents will then receive a postcard that tells them a time to bring their child(ren) to the South Lawrence Gym on July 29. There, their child will receive a new backpack and supplies, new shoes, the health screenings and a haircut. They will also be entertained: local educators Christina and Ken Hobbs have been involved with the Florence Give a Kid a Chance for several years and are part of its puppet/clown ministry. That group and others will be performing July 29, Bro. Dyar says.

Other churches that would like to be involved are welcome. Congregations will be filling backpacks with a designated list of school supplies for elementary or middle/high school students. Ministers’ lives are busy – I know from experience – so a member who has a passion for this project can be appointed to represent your church. Remember, Give a Kid a Chance will be offered county wide in 2018-19, so every helping hand will be needed.

I’m especially glad that Give a Kid a Chance Lawrence County has strong partners that are already helping our students: Project AWARE, IAM4Kids, and the Lawrence County Substance Abuse Coalition. This new organization offers a whole new way for you and me to become involved in students’ lives, and I am excited about the difference we can make, together.

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