Superheroes Will be Masked This Year

“My dear, I think we need to open early.” I hear the urgency in her words before Jamie, Holy Trinity’s incredible office manager, reaches my office door. It is the first day of the first annual School Supplies Giveaway (2019) and she has been fielding calls all day from desperate people asking if they could pick up early.

I glance at the entrance outside and see the cars filing into the parking lot. We walk quickly (Jamie only has one speed: Fast.) to the far south entrance and see the line of people through the glass. Nearing the door, we realize the line stretches down to the sidewalk. And into the parking lot full of cars. We still have 45 minutes until our stated opening time.

“We don’t have enough stuff.” I whisper to Jamie. But beyond praying for a loaves-and-fishes-type of miracle, there is nothing more we can do.

Walking into the rooms covered in neat piles of notebooks, backpacks, pencils, Crayons, Clorox wipes, and Expo markers, I ask the School Supplies Team, “Everyone OK if we open early?” They nod nonchalantly. Most of them are retired teachers and have stared down the crush of incoming parents and students for years. Of course they are ready, they were ready last week. We open early.

Crowds of parents, guardians, and children come flooding in. The kids run first to the table full of backpacks to pick the most colorful or the one with their favorite superhero. They are gleeful and excited, their eyes lighting up with what they will get to use all year. The parents and guardians work their way methodically through the school supplies list (handed out by the volunteers because, you know…they rock).

A parishioner, Hal Bass, stops by to drop off more materials. Seeing we have very little left, he offers to run to a store for us, returning with bags of supplies. “I took all the wipes and Kleenex I could find!” he announces.

A woman with three children in tow comes up to me. “Thank you so much for this help,” she says, her voice wobbling with emotion. “My husband just lost his job.”

“Can’t thank you enough,” an older man later tells me quietly. “We were just given custody of our grandchildren and we couldn’t have afforded this….” he trails off, gesturing to the backpacks full of needed items.

“It was either school stuff or rent. Thanks to this, we can pay the rent!”

“We’ve just had a really hard year.”

“My wife got hurt and the medical bills put us back a lot.”

Forty-five minutes later it is 5 pm, our original starting time, the backpacks are gone, Clorox wipes are gone, even the crayons are gone. A few piles of loose-leaf paper and some pencils are all that remain as people continue to file in the door. We didn’t have enough supplies, but perhaps “enough” is not an attainable goal. Perhaps just doing the best we can was enough for the first year.

A month later, September 2019, the Missions Team and the volunteers wrote plans for 2020. We vowed to allocate more money from our budget, lengthen the school supplies drive, and get VBS involved. We promised to be even more prepared in 2020.

But in September 2019, who could have predicted the upheaval of COVID-19?

A few months ago, the Missions Team began asking ourselves: How do we help this community and others without endangering them and transmitting the virus throughout multiple communities? How could we fill a room with people when crowds are dangerous? How do we collect supplies from the congregation when contact makes them vulnerable?

Three members knew the answer. Liz Nelson, Linnea Hautman, and Sande Schoenecker proposed a Drive-by plan with bags of pre-packed school supplies, based on grades, to be handed out. When we decided it was unsafe to accept supplies from the congregation, Tim Miller helped to allocate more money from our budget and the Endowment Team was gracious enough to give us a grant. Julie Popple helped me with the orders and Amber Kahnke created mental health resource handouts to be included in the bags.

So this is our COVID-19 School Supplies Giveaway Drive-by Plan: Tim Miller will direct traffic in the parking lot while Dennis Tietz makes sure we don’t hold up traffic on Highway 19. Marge Larsen, Amber Kahnke, Lydia Popple, and Pastor Diane Goulson and I will be masked and handing out bright blue bags of pencils, papers, Expo markers, and highlighters. Please share with anyone who may need this info.

Please send up your prayers on Monday, August 17, 5- 7 pm! We pray for the safety of our volunteers, for the health and well-being of our guests, that we have enough stuff, and please, please don’t let it rain!

To be continued….


HUGE THANKS to the School Supplies Superheroes Team of 2019: Audrey Austin, Mary Hanson Busch, Mary Eagan, Linnea Hautman, Liz Nelson, Sande Schoenecker, and Laurie Thorpe. Your work was inspirational..

Thank you to the Missions Team Superheroes: Audrey Austin, Pam Edel, Linnea Hautman, Amber Kahnke, Marge Larsen, Timothy Miller, Liz Nelson, Julie Popple, Sande Schoenecker, Dennis Tietz, and George Winn

Thank you to the Endowment Committee for the grant and being another team behind the missions of HTLC.

Finally, Thank You Always to the congregation and staff for your donations and continued support of Holy Trinity’s missions!

Now, seriously…. send up those prayers.
Written by Rose M. Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist
August 12, 2020

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