Program sends students packing
Church provides free bookbags and a message to area students
As he waited outside of Faith Builders International Church last Thursday with his buddy Aaron Potts, William Wilburn said he wasn't ready to return to school.
Although the two youngsters might still be mentally unprepared for the start of school Thursday, they left the church materially equipped to face the school year.
Michelle Steele, who serves as pastor at the church with her husband, Philip, said Faith Builders handed out 1,000 backpacks and school supplies as part of Operation Sonshine. The church raised the money for the items with donations from walk-a-thon drives and contributions at the De Soto J-Mart, Huhtamaki and other local businesses, she said. The Wal-Mart Foundation and Kauffman Foundation for Greater Kansas City also contributed.
"A lot of people helped make this distribution possible," she said. "Wal-Mart and Office Depot placed barrels in Johnson County stores so people could contribute for school supplies.
"We sent out a mailing to every household in De Soto and Clearview City. We want the city to know we are encouraging our children's education."
Last weekend, the church distributed 4,000 backpacks with school supplies in the inner cities of Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo., Steele said.
The church handled last Thursday's distribution in an organized manner. Children and parents registered in front of the church and were ushered in 50 at a time to the chapel where Philip Steele delivered a short message on the church's mission before receiving the backpacks and school supplies upon exiting the rear of the building.
"God doesn't call us to the ministry so we can go to church on Sunday and then take off the rest of the week," he told the gathering. "The reason we are a very different group of people is we're not afraid to touch people in every part of their lives."