Conway church donates supplies, reignites student energy

Leaders of the Bethel AME Church in Conway donated notepads, pens, pencils and backpacks, attempting to reenergize student Conway students' passion to learn. (Taggart Houck/WPDE)

For 152 years, Bethel AME in Conway has been a staple for neighbors along Racepath Avenue.

“I once heard a quote that said, ‘If you’re going to build something...make sure you build something that builds the community along with it,’” said Rev. William Miller at Bethel AME.

He and some of his members know that vision starts with building dreams. Dreams like Joshua Johnson’s.

“I plan on going to the NFL and if that doesn’t work out, I’m gonna be a teacher,” said Joshua Johnson, a 5th grade elementary school student and church member.

His church family knows they’re dreams he can attain. But in order to do it, he needs supplies. Anything from backpacks to notepads, pens and pencils.

“So I could do things I need to do in my school,” he said.

Saturday, they hosted a midway school year education rally.

“Initially, we do a backpack giveaway, but unfortunately, when we get midways through (the school year) a lot of the kids, they need supplies,” said Claudine Schofield, an organizer.

It wasn’t just about giveaways. The group brought speakers from across the region and county, hoping to instill a sense of pride in their work, and keep them motivated.

“Something of this nature is absolutely fabulous for the kids, fabulous for the parents who may be at a point this year where getting these supplies are difficult,” said Melissa McCloud, another organizer.

The building they’re shaping starts in the classroom.

“We got you,” said Schofield. “The village wants to step up and make sure that we killed the excuses and we make sure that our young people are equipped every day and the end result is for them to become contributing members of society."

And in Joshua’s case, a path to the NFL

“(It) makes me feel good that my church cares so much about me,” he said.

Church leaders said most supplies were either donated or paid for using grant money.

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