by Gene Marrano
Since its inception more than a decade ago, starting out in the basement at Virginia Heights Baptist Church, Faith Christian School has worked to foster the spirit of giving back. Every year students grades K-12, teachers, administrators and parents volunteer during the annual “Project Faith” day of service, helping local non-profits with a little elbow grease.
This year’s Project Faith day of service took place last Friday, when crews fanned out to the Roanoke Rescue Mission, the Charity Cottage and Manna Ministries in Vinton and Feeding America in Salem. The school spent months prepping students for this day – and working with them to send out letters to friends, family and businesses seeking financial sponsorships.
This year the target was to raise $160,000 – a goal succeeded and then some. In fact it looks like when all the envelopes are in that Project Faith 2012 may net about $200,000, which will be used for tuition assistance programs at the southwest Roanoke County school and for budget items like teacher salaries.
At the Roanoke Rescue Mission on 4th Street SE, crews (students there were from grades 2-5) helped clean the living quarters, wiping down beds and making them up; they prepped vegetables for the lunch shift, washed the picket fence outside the building and mulched flower beds at the women’s shelter across the way. Other students put together gift bags that will be given out on Mother’s Day.
Ann Grubb, a Faith Christian parent and volunteer, was the crew chief for the Rescue Mission service day. “We’ve been here several [times] doing different projects,” said Grubb. There were so many children involved (the school has about 300 students) that it was necessary to split them up into several groups for Project Faith, sending them in different directions. Teachers explained to their young pupils ahead of time what the Rescue Mission is all about. “Not everybody is as fortunate as we are to have a roof over our heads,” said Grubb, “so that’s what we’re doing today, serving those who don’t.”
Grubb has two children at Faith Christian, both of whom were also involved with Project Faith – as are all students, regardless of age. “We love to do it as a family,” said Grubb, who recruited her mother-in-law when her husband couldn’t make it.
Parent volunteer Maria McKeown, also a Physical Education teacher at Faith Christian, was roaming the halls at the Rescue Mission, snapping pictures for posterity. She has a fifth grader at the school (Jenna). “It’s wonderful for them to get out into the community and see lifestyles that are different than their own,” said McKeown, “and as Christians we are called to give back. It’s a wonderful way for them to get out and serve. It makes a big impression on a lot of these kids.”
Rescue Mission Kitchen Manager David Hankins was grateful for the help: “It’s very much a blessing to have them here, to help us with a lot of things we normally don’t have time to do.” Hankins said the deep cleaning being done in the cafeteria and elsewhere was much appreciated – as he got ready to serve 300 lunches. Later in the typical day 450-500 dinners will be prepared.
Rescue Mission Volunteer Coordinator Leslie Littlefield said there were about 160 in the Faith Christian group at the shelter last Friday. “We’ve got them all over the place. We are always grateful to have Project Faith here, joining us in the effort to serve others.” Previously the Faith Christian crew helped clean up the Rescue Mission’s Jubilee Acres day camp site in Catawba.
Headmaster Sam Cox said the 11th year for Project Faith – the third time at the Rescue Mission – was a big success, financially and otherwise. Last year Project Faith raised $174,000 and with more than $190,000 raised so far this year, “We’d like to hit the $200,000 mark,” said Cox. More than $1.5 million has been raised by the annual service effort over the past 11 years. But Project Faith is about much more than just raising money for the school: “First and foremost we want to serve the community, and [those] who need us to rally around them and help.”