By Carolyn McKinney, UMW President
It’s been almost four years since our relationship with Hampton Elementary School began. Our relationship grew from a conversation about a new local mission for the United Methodist Women to a local mission that involved many Christ Church members, children and youth, as well as community groups. It grew from simply giving two books to children to holding a Summer Enrichment Time for three weeks, involving many adults and youth.
Our relationship with Hampton grew very close over time: UMW members wrote notes of encouragement to the staff; provided uniforms for students, food and furniture for needy families, and school supplies and backpacks for hundreds of children; and supplied classrooms with instructional materials. All I had to do was express a need and a circle, UMW member, Sunday School class, or youth or community group was quick to respond.
Because we had relationships with the Hampton staff and families, we were able to supply their immediate needs following the tornado on April 15. Teachers who lost instructional supplies were asked to make a “Wish List,” and with contributions from individuals, other Methodist churches, and Staples, we were able to fulfill their needs. We met clothing requests, including 1000 pairs of underwear from Hanes. Through contributions to the CUMC fund and the work of the Next Step Sunday school class, we provided furniture, appliances, and household items for 6 families who lost almost everything. We helped with electric bills and hotel expenses. Most of these families are back on their feet.
This school year is very different. Only 125 of the 325 students remain at Hampton at the Reedy Fork location. Hampton is no longer a magnet school. Therefore, those students returned to their home school. Others have chosen to attend Simpkins or Faulkner elementary schools, which are much closer to their home.
The tornado did shine a light on a very needy school. There was an outpouring of school supplies, clothing, and food for the students. Where we once were the source of school supplies, two pods are now filled; where we once were the source for clothing, Belk Foundation has a clothing closet; where we once supplied food to needy families, there is an overabundance of food for the backpacks. With the smaller enrollment, staff members are providing the tutoring, and the students are using the books in the media center at Reedy Fork Elementary. Therefore, our participation at Hampton is declining. We will distribute books prior to the winter break to all the students. This will likely be our last activity there. The future of Hampton School is still uncertain for the next school year.
However, our relationships with students and staff remain with us. At the Block Party at Glenwood, who came running to find us? William. He and his family attended the Table at Glenwood on Monday. His aunt lives in the neighborhood. He sought us because we are his friends from Christ Church. What made the difference is that we not only sent supplies, we worked with them personally. Thank for all the contributions of time, talent and resources that you gave the Hampton community!