From T. R. Williams:

Whether you’re excited about the start of a new school year or not, it officially arrives with a half day for students this Friday.

It began much earlier for others. Teachers, administrators and support personnel work hard to make sure they and their schools are ready when students arrive. I want to thank them for all they do for our children.

I also want to thank our community for the back-to-school support it gives to students and families. Every year I see programs sponsored by churches, clubs, and businesses that offer this help, and this year there are more than ever.

Saturday was a busy day for everyone involved in those projects. The local Elks Lodge, Housing Authority, and Leoma Church of Christ sponsored school supply giveaways and other activities designed to get students and their parents ready for 2017-18. These require money, time, and most of all, a genuine concern for our kids and their futures.

I am blessed to be involved in a program introduced this year in the southern end of Lawrence County: Give a Kid a Chance. With the help of donations from the community, my church and nine others worked together to supply 179 kindergarten through 12th grade students a backpack full of school supplies; new shoes; a bible; vision, dental, and hearing screenings; and a haircut.

One hundred five volunteers from different denominations made this happen Saturday at Loretto High School. It was wonderful to see the church acting as the hands and feet of Christ, with no group defined by the building it meets in, or the name on the sign outside it. This is just a small demonstration of the impact we can make in the world.

Give a Kid a Chance is expanding county-wide in 2018-19, and it is an operation with proven success. It 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.

Many churches will be needed to take this county-wide. Pastors will be contacted through their associations, or can go to the website, giveakidachance.lc@gmail.com, or call 1-931-225-8523 to learn more. You can “like” and follow the organization on Facebook at GAKAC Lawrence County or Twitter: @GAKACLC. If you or your business/organization wants to give a tax-deductible donation to the effort, it can be mailed to P.O. Box 74, Loretto, TN 38469.

Two more back-to-school events are coming up in the next few days:

Sunday, August 6, Mars Hill Baptist Church will hold its third annual event for students and parents at Ingram Sowell Elementary. Everything is free: inflatables, hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn, live music, haircuts for everyone, and t-shirts with the school logo. A backpack will be given to each child, and school supplies are being provided to each classroom for their use.

Thursday, August 3, the Lawrence County School System and Lawrenceburg Rotary Club are teaming up for the Whole Child Expo from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rotary Park gyms. This is for all Lawrence County students, from Pre-K to recent high school graduates, and their parents.

Inside, booths will be set with representatives from area colleges, health care providers, academic and athletic programs, and more. Someone will be there to offer advice about each area of a student’s development – the ‘whole child,’ said Shannon Watson, the school system’s CTE/Communications Director. The goal is to help every child succeed in life.

Leoma Baptist Church is providing hot dogs, chips and drinks for all students and parents who visit, and there will be free t-shirts for a limited number.

It’s a great thing to see so many involved in efforts that make a difference for our students. That willingness to help one another is something I see demonstrated over and over in Lawrence County. On behalf of our students – and our future – I thank you.

: News

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