Epworth United Methodist Church in Columbus has found a unique way to help a neighborhood school.
Members at the church on Devonshire Drive are donating supplies for the clinic at Allen Elementary.
So far, in June, the church collected 57 packages of 3-ounce paper cups, 37 packages of sandwich bags, 98 packages of adhesive bandages, 111 packages of tissues and 35 packages of cotton balls.
Church member Bobby Smith said there are 57 school clinics in the Muscogee County School District and a limited budget.
“The goal is to provide a year’s supply of these basic items to Allen,” he said.
The project began as a mission of the church’s vacation bible school, but the campaign continued afterward.
Darlene Shirley, lead nurse for the school district, called the Epworth mission a wonderful idea.
“It is something special that we have children helping meet the needs of children,” she said.
There is a great need for supplies.
“We go through a lot of Band-Aids,” Shirley added.
And also a lot of cups.
Shirley said approximately 15,000 doses of medication are dispensed in the school district each month. That is where the small drinking cups come in handy.
“The person administering the medicine has to actually watch the child take the medicine,” Smith said. “It’s not appropriate for the clinic worker to just give a child a dose of medicine and send him down the hall to the water fountain.”
He added that Ziploc bags are used with ice or a frozen sponge to make a low-cost disposable cold pack.
Dawn Wilson, the children’s ministry director at Epworth, said the children, many of whom attend Allen, were excited about the project.
“They feel they are helping people they know,” she said.
The mission project last summer collected items such as washcloths and toothpaste, which were sent to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, a nonprofit humanitarian organization providing relief from hunger and disaster in different areas.
“This is mission work right here at home,” said the Rev. Tony Crosby, the church pastor who came to Epworth in 2015.
Wilson said the church also collects box tops for Allen that are used to get funds in a national Box Tops For Education program.
Smith said getting clinic supplies was not difficult.
“It could all be found at dollar stores,” he said.
Epworth was established in 1960. Crosby said the church of about 200 active members contributes to several charities including Wynnton Food Network, SafeHouse for the homeless at Rose Hill United Methodist Church and the Damascus Way Home for Women and Children operated by Valley Rescue Mission.
“I am proud to be pastor at this church,” Crosby said. “It is very mission minded.”
He said the church shares the values of United Methodist Church founder John Wesley, which is to help people grow in faith and also serve the world.
Church leaders believe it is important to get the children involved in the mission.
“We are planting the seeds about how it is good to do for others,” Wilson said.
Smith would like to see other churches contribute to school clinics.
“They can really use the help,” he said.