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Church “Adoption” Bonds School & Community


When members of Wyoming-based Christ Lutheran Church approached Gladiola Elementary School Principal David Lyon about “adopting” the school, Lyon filled out a wish list of possible ways the church could support them. Instead of choosing one community service project, they wanted to fill all the requests, which were as diverse as helping out at Math Night to providing emergency buckets for classrooms in case of a long-term lockdown event.

“It really gives us a sense of community and of someone understanding needs that are not necessarily apparent,” Lyon said. “They asked, ‘What do you need done?’ and said, ‘Let’s make that happen for you.'”

Now church members regularly volunteer to help students in reading and math; they shelve books in the library. Their presence is felt throughout the Wyoming Public Schools building.

Church member Nancy Heidrich, a retired Grandville High School teacher, helps second-grader Zoey Winship with math
Church member Nancy Heidrich, a retired Grandville High School teacher, helps second-grader Zoey Winship with math

“We wanted to reach out to our neighbors and be of assistance,” said church member Kathy Reister, a retired pastor.

Church members of all ages have contributed. Middle school members assembled “Germ-free Buckets” for classrooms so students can easily access hand sanitizer and tissues. A Boy Scout troop made up of church members plans to spruce up the school courtyard. Members made homemade bags filled with school supplies and donated them.

On a recent Tuesday in the school hallway, church member Nancy Heidrich, a retired Grandville High School teacher, showed second-grader Zoey Winship cool addition tricks. She often reads to the students and offers a listening ear when they want to talk. “I enjoy it. I enjoy coming. I enjoy the kids,” she said.

Zoey likes it too. “She helps me with my work,” she said.

Being Prepared in Case of Emergency

The emergency buckets were recommended during a training offered by the Wyoming Police Department on emergency preparedness. They are something the school probably wouldn’t have purchased on its own, Lyons said, but they add a safety measure he’s thankful for.

In response to national school shootings, Gladiola, like schools nationwide, have lockdown drills, during which students practice what to do in case of an emergency.

The buckets, stocked with first-aid equipment, a flashlight, toilet paper, snacks, bandages, drinking cups, water and a fire extinguisher, will be stationed in all 24 classrooms for use in case of a real lockdown.

“It’s not a critical need until it’s a critical need,” Lyon said. “Hopefully we will never need to use them,” he said.

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Christ Lutheran Church

Example of Classroom Lockdown Kit

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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