Woodward United Methodist Church sees impact from COVID-19 on School Supply Closet

T.K. West - Correspondent
Some of the bookbags during a previous School Supply Closet at Woodward United Methodist Church. PHOTO BY ALLISON ULLMANN/THE PERRY CHIEF

The School Supply Closet sponsored by the Woodward United Methodist Church will once again help families prepare for the upcoming academic year. This year, the supply closet will look different in order to accommodate for the impact of COVID-19. Instead of permitting families to attend the two-day event, the school supply closet has instead asked parents to register children by Monday, July 27.

“Each and every year we have had the School Supply Drive, we have helped more families and students. It is our fear that the need is even greater this year due to the job furloughs and unemployment. We will do the best we can to supply as many as possible,” Terri Danilson of the Woodward United Methodist Church School Supply Closet said.

Once registrations are received, several volunteers from the church will bag each child’s required supplies and label them according to family. Parents can then pick up the supplies at an assigned time. Danilson said that the only exception to this will be bookbags in which each parent can make a selection based on their child’s preferences to themes, colors and more.

“We have had years when parents have used the supplies when something really devastating has occurred in their family. Single parents have said how helpful it is for them, and sometimes grandparents are temporarily raising children and need help,” Danilson said.

The school supply closet, itself, has also seen an impact in regards to donations and contributions due to the coronavirus. With Shopko (one of the donors who had provided sizable grants in the past) closed, the only grant the supply closet has received this year is from the Myrna Reynoldson Mayfield Trust. In addition, businesses and foundations have not been able to contribute due to the economic impact of the virus, and with the church just starting to offer attendance in the sanctuary a couple weeks ago, funds for the program have become limited.

“This year, we are sorry to say, we may need to limit the number of families we can serve. Ordinarily, members of our congregation generously donate to the project, and we receive funds from various foundations as well as gift cards offered from a few businesses, who are reluctant to help this year because of the damage the shut down has done to their income as well,” Danilson said. “We will serve as many families as possible, but we may not be able to assist all who need help.”

One of the best ways community members can help support the local school supply closet is to donate to their fund. The volunteers not only shop for items on sale but also try to make sure all things are alike and on the supply list. Danilson said that they have spent countless hours trying to acquire disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer, with disinfectant wipes difficult to find and limited in the quantity available to purchase.

“We also are trying to make sure that all of our products are safe disinfectants and not made with dangerous forms of alcohol,” Danilson said. “Most parents who have used our supply closet are so very grateful for the assistance. Often, they offer a free-will donation for having received the supplies. It is a big project, but the appreciation shown by the families using the event makes it worth the effort.”

The Woodward United Methodist Church School Supply Closet is currently available to parents of families attending the Woodward-Granger School District. This includes families from both the towns of Woodward and Granger. Those interested in learning more about the school supply closet or how they can help can reach out to 438-2808.

“Our church family is so very generous in donating toward the project. Their generosity at helping others is amazing. They certainly live Jesus’ direction to help and serve others. That is why living in a small town like Woodward is so gratifying,” Danilson said.