Across America students will soon be returning to school. Many children and teens dread school, and not just because it means giving up their summer freedom. For many kids, school is a source of anxiety and fear, especially in the first few days. Starting the school year off without the needed supplies, clothes and support can set students off on the wrong path for the year. Let’s be kind to our students and help set them on the right track. Besides collecting school supplies in backpacks and distributing them to the community and your corps youth, here are some other ways you can be kind to students this month.
Service Project Ideas
First Day Clothes
If your corps has leftover clothing items from Christmas, don’t store them away for the moths to eat. Organize any items that could be used for a first–day clothing shop. If you don’t have enough, check your thrift store for good quality kids’ items that you could add. Invite families with kids to come and select items for the first day of school.
First Day Bags
Every kid should start the first day of school feeling loved and supported. Prepare first day bags for all the kids in the corps youth programs. A first–day bag can contain little items just to build excitement and give an extra special bit of encouragement. Give the bags with a note that says, “Do Not Open Until the First Day of School.”
Some examples are:
- Decorative Pencils
- Small pencil sharpener
- Fun shaped erasers
- Easy to read scripture verse and note of encouragement
- Small treat to begin the day (muffin, breakfast bar, nutrition bar)
- Juice Box
Back to School Supply Tree
Middle and High School students often have some very specific school supplies based on the classes they are taking. Put up a back–to-school tree and allow parents or students to place their name and request on the tree for items they need for school. As a group, select the items, go back–to–school shopping and deliver these items to the students. This is similar to the Christmas Angel Tree.
College Care Packages
Prepare care packages for students who have attended the corps but moved from home for college. Snacks, laundry supplies and toiletries are often items last to be included in the budget when a family struggles to afford college. Most college students are willing to take anything you care enough to send. Make sure to write a scripture encouragement card and drop it in the package too.
Point Your Kids in the Right Direction
Point your kids in the right direction, and when they’re old they won’t be lost” (Prov. 22:6 The Message).
Not only do we want our kids to be physically ready for the new school year, we want them to be spiritually ready for what they will face. As a body of believers, it is our duty to invest in the lives of the children in our corps, which means showing them by example the right way to live. If we want our kids to encourage others, we must encourage them. If we want our youth to be kind to others, we must be kind to them. Kids can be disruptive, disrespectful and sassy at times, but our job is to care enough to love them through this stage of their lives and direct them on the right path. We do this with love and kindness, not nagging and yelling.
You may have heard of the quote, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It is an African proverb and came from the idea that all villagers were looking after the welfare of the child. Well, it takes the whole church village to raise a believer. As a church, we celebrate milestones with kids like the first day of school. We attend their games and ask how their classes are going. We talk to them about life and Jesus. We show them how to live and stand firm in this culture, and we direct them to the path of righteousness again and again until they get it. Above all, we pray for them even when they don’t know we do.
Service of Prayer
On small cards, list the names of all the students in the corps and the children/grandchildren of women’s ministry members. Also include the names of the local schools in the corps community. Invite each woman to draw a card and spend time praying for the person whose name is on that card. Ask them to keep the card and pray for the individual throughout the school year.
Lord, we pray for our students in this corps that they will keep their feet on Your path of doing what is right. Help them to focus and enjoy learning. Surround them with caring teachers and kind friends. Give us the words to say and the things to do to encourage them and direct them in Your path.