Children Receive Back-to-School Cheer

Photo by Alec Berry Clowns entertain guests at Saturday’s Adopt-A-Student event in North Wheeling.

WHEELING — There were clowns handing out balloons from a pair of plastic chairs as the Rev. Darrell Cummings walked across the floor of the North Wheeling Community Youth Center listening to people receive things.

This was at Saturday’s Adopt-A-Student program, in which area children and their families are provided school supplies and other essential materials. It’s an annual event, financially backed by a long list of local companies and foundations, such as Orrick and the Wheeling Rotary Club. By the end of the day, the program served 430 students and their families.

“Our goal is not to just send them back to school with supplies,” Cummings said. “Our goal is to send them back with a smile.”

Cotton candy and ice cream were prevelant, and there was a giveaway of bicycles.

Youngsters made great effort to select the exact board game or toy which was most appealing.

Outside, they waved for the television cameras on watch.

“A backpack,” Taylor Reynolds, 6, said. “I want to get a backpack with Spiderman on it.”

Cummings can remember being young and not having the proper supplies or the other things the rest of the children at school were given. At the time, his parents needed to pay down a house, so they could not afford the additional expense.

He launched Adopt-A-Student 25 years ago because of his own experience.

“We want them to know they are important to us now as youth,” Cummings said. “If we can help them go back with a good attitude about school, their attitude will determine their altitude.”

Additionally, the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple, Cumming’s church, will host a Back to School Festival at Wheeling Park Sunday between 5 and 7 p.m. There will be games and food. It is free and open to the public.