United Methodist provides school supplies to needy students

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

United Methodist provides school supplies to needy students

Aug. 24, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
tparham@flumc.org     Orlando {0348}

NOTE:  This article was produced by United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn., and distributed Aug. 17 to its subscribers.

An e-Review Feature
By Nancy E. Johnson**

SARASOTA — They lined up before the doors opened at North United Methodist Church in Sarasota. It was like Christmas in the summertime as children and their parents waited for their goodie bags.

"OK, we need scissors for her. We need glue," said Mary Bradley Weeks, the event organizer, as she helped people waiting in line.

Almost four years ago, Weeks started donating school supplies to needy families. Through the nonprofit Mary Bradley Weeks Education Project Inc., she gives at least a thousand students a good start for the new school year.

"They'll have an equal opportunity to learn," Weeks said. "It's embarrassing for a student to go to school when they don't have the necessary tools they need — pencils, paper, ink pen."

Weeks began the school supplies drive because of a promise she made to her 2-year-old great-grandson, Adrian Mitchell. She vowed that she would teach him to read and write before he started school. But she couldn't keep that promise. In 2002, Adrian was hit by a car and killed.

"He was very mature for his age," Weeks said. "He used to give his toys away, give old clothes away. By himself, he'd just give them away."

So Weeks decided to turn her grief into a gift for children in her community. She writes to companies, tells them Adrian's story and asks for donations. She's never been turned down. And she's grateful that she can make a difference for needy families.

"Just giving them a little bit — not a handout, but a helping hand," she said.

Lisa Littlefield is a mother of six. She says she couldn't afford school supplies for her kids without Weeks' help.

"It's extremely tough," Littlefield said. "I'm not working. He (my husband) is the only one working. That makes it hard. Limited, very limited."

Cabrina Adams stocked up on folders, paper, pencils and protractors for her three children. She doesn't know how she'd afford school supplies without this help.

"Probably borrow or layaway, maybe. But I'm so thankful. I'm always appreciative," said Adams.

By the end of the day, Weeks had distributed almost all of the supplies.

"We've been cleaned out," she said. "But it's a good cleanout."


This article relates to Outreach.

*Parham managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Nancy E. Johnson is a Florida-based, freelance television and print journalist.

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