Area churches provide volunteers groups for back to school efforts

September 2, 2011

By Christina Lords

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Hazelwood Elementary School first-grade teacher Daniela Driscoll usually starts to prepare her classroom weeks before the first day of school.

Desks and other furniture need to be wiped down and dusted, material packets must be sorted and separated, bulletin boards have to be updated and redecorated — and that’s just a glimpse at her to do list.

By Christina Lords Daniela Driscoll, Hazelwood Elementary School first-grade teacher (left), shows Margareta Bjorkegren how to organize student workbooks for the start of the school year.

During her first year, Driscoll’s family came to help set up her room, and most years, it’s just her doing the work.

But this year — thanks to about 40 volunteers from Newcastle’s three churches — Driscoll and other elementary school teachers throughout the city received a helping hand to prepare their classrooms for incoming students.

On the afternoon of Aug. 21, members of the Seattle Revival Center, Beit Tikvah and Emmaus Road Church helped 11 area teachers at Hazelwood and Newcastle elementary schools ready their rooms for the school year.

Members of the churches met at Lake Boren Park for a barbecue before the event to mingle and get to know each other.

Volunteers were divided into groups of three to five people and were on hand to do anything including cleaning, unstacking chairs, arranging classroom furniture and organizing textbooks.

“All the little details get done so much faster with more hands,” Driscoll said. “It’s a group effort to get things going this year, and I’m so thankful that it’s not just me in here doing all of this.”

The Rev. Rich McCaskill, pastor of Emmaus Road Church, said the idea for the service project came from churches that host similar volunteer efforts in Bellevue.

This is the first year all three churches in Newcastle have joined forces to volunteer at both schools. Any of the elementary schools’ teachers can ask to be assigned to a volunteer group.

“When churches come together to cooperate and work as a team … and they’re not divided, the better picture we can present to the world,” McCaskill said, “and the better example we set in our service.”

The volunteer effort helps support teachers who give so much of their personal time to the community, he said.

“There’s always a teacher in tears saying, ‘Thanks. I get to be with my family on Labor Day,’” he said.

The Rev. Darren Stott, pastor of Seattle Revival Center, said even though members of each church may come from a slightly different background, the event is a way to show solidarity within Newcastle’s religious community.

“The thing we have in common is we have a huge heart for this community,” he said. “We’ve all done things to reach out individually as churches, but this is a way for us to all come together without any agenda and just provide a service to the city.”


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