…And a Little Child Will Lead Them

by | Aug 20, 2020

Young Ailyn of St. Paul’s Piney Parish with her piggybank

4 year-old Ailyn, along with her parents and little brother are members of St. Paul’s Piney Parish in Waldorf, MD. On June 28 at the virtual coffee hour after online services, Ailyn heard Mother Maria Kane talking about the families the parish is helping from the partnership with their neighborhood elementary school. Ailyn wanted to help too and she went and got her piggy bank. There was $73.32 in her bank and she told the folks online at coffee hour she wanted to help those families too and she gave it all.

And a little child shall lead them. Ailyn’s gesture has turned into over $2,000 so far with matching donations. Ailyn’s mom, Emily comments, “She keeps having a bigger and bigger impact, like ripples in the water.” 

In addition, the folks of St. Paul’s are working on ways they can help with school supplies and other things as students and parents work to adjust to the start of another school year.

The contents of the piggybank – a generous haul!

This year, back-to-school looks different than any year we have ever experienced. Most students are beginning their school year in their bedroom or living room or around the kitchen table. Others are in classrooms with a mask on. Parents are full of questions and apprehension. And teachers, well let’s just say they are taking what they learned in the Spring and making the needed changes to ensure their students get the best learning and experience possible. They need all the help and support they can get.

The big question is how do our parishes fit into this new world? The traditional school supply drive, does that help? Let’s look at what some of our parishes are doing:

  • Church of the Redeemer in Bethesda held a drive for tablets through Housing Up. The cost was $50 per tablet and the drive netted 70 tablets.
  • Washington National Cathedral conducted their “Lunches & Laptops” drive. Partnering with United Planning Organization, they filled two big pick-up trucks with crafts, games, notebooks, art supplies and lots of healthy snacks and foods for children across the city.
  • In Prince George’s County, there are 2 elementary schools in the neighborhood of St. John’s, Mt. Rainier. Deacon Sandra Bramble says the way to help is to pick up the phone and call the school principal and offer. And then, be ready to work.
  • St. Andrew’s, College Park has been partnering with McCormack-Langley Park Elementary School for a number of years. They do school supplies in the fall and a warm coat drive in the winter. 
  • At St. George’s, Valley Lee and Ascension, Lexington Park, Deacon Martha Eldridge is working on details to set up an internet zone in the church for the families who do not have access in the rural parts of St. Mary’s County.
  • At St. James, Indian Head, they have boosted their Wi-Fi so that the community can come to the parking lot and have access to the internet while staying safe in their cars.

This school year, it is more important than ever to be involved. When asked about help, teachers are often not sure what to ask for. Parents and kids are figuring this out as they go. As for those of us in the parishes of the Diocese of Washington, back-to-school this year will likely last throughout the school year. We need to stay in touch with our families and the teachers and administration of our schools and be good partners… all year long. 

Don’t wait for someone else to do it or organize it because 4-year-old Ailyn is already way ahead of us. 

Complied by Deacon Steve Seely, St. Paul’s Piney Parish, Waldorf, MD