Bethlehem Apostolic Temple is gearing up to help children get ready for a new school year, and the Rev. Darrell Cummings is asking Ohio Valley residents to help.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, the church - with help from the St. Clairsville and Wheeling Rotary Clubs - is holding a Stuff the Bus event at the St. Clairsville Wal-Mart, located at the Ohio Valley Plaza.
People can donate backpacks, pencils, pens, paper, rulers, notebooks and other school supplies to help fill the vehicle. Those items will be distributed to children at 10 a.m. Aug. 16 at the church, located on 330 N. Main St. in North Wheeling. This is the 24th year for the event.
Cummings, a Wheeling Rotary Club member, said this is the first time the two Rotary clubs have joined together for such a fundraiser. He said on distribution day, students from both Ohio and West Virginia are welcome to receive supplies. He said even college students can partake in the giveaway.
Cummings stressed that for parents to pickup supplies their children must be with them.
Following the distribution, at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 16 , the church's Back to School Festival will begin. It includes rides, cotton candy and more. Each year between 400-500 students are each given about $35 worth of supplies. Cummings estimated the annual cost of the program at $15,000.
"This year is more dire because we lost one of our major sponsors," he said.
He remembers from his own childhood what it is like to go to school without new supplies for a new year.
"My parents moved from the inner city to the suburbs - Cleveland Heights. My parents spent money on getting a new house, and said they did not have money for school clothes or bookbags," he said. "I was in a new school with no new things. I felt a little ashamed."
Back to school donations can also be made at WesBanco bank or on the North Wheeling Youth Center website, www.northwheelingyouthcenter.org.