No school left behind: More than 600 volunteers help fill void left by budget cuts

An area church sent out more than 600 volunteers to local schools on Saturday, Aug. 21, to complete projects that this year’s school budgets won’t cover.

Colonial Heights Baptist Church’s “Chrestos” event involved about 20 schools, including 10 in Chesterfield: Matoaca High, Community High, Marguerite Christian Elementary, Matoaca Elementary, Ettrick Elementary, Carver Middle, Harrowgate Elementary, Matoaca Middle, Curtis Elementary and L.C. Bird High.

“It was a good day,” said church member Julee Walker. “Six hundred people headed out to go do something  unique on a Saturday morning is pretty cool.”

Every year, the church puts on an event called “Chrestos,” which is a Greek word for “showing God’s kindness,” Walker said. This year, she said, since school budgets were hit hard in the region, the church went to the principals of about 20 different schools and said, “Give us a wish list.”

“They didn’t know what to say,” she said of the principals. “They were just so taken that a group would come in and do something like that.” The vast majority of the volunteers didn’t have a “vested interest” in the schools they worked at, she said.

Projects included everything from landscaping and painting to moving furniture and pressure washing, Walker said. At Marguerite Christian Elementary, volunteers painted curbs, lines and bus numbers in the school’s bus drop-off area.

Kimberley Dickerson, Marguerite Christian’s assistant principal, said about 12 to 15 volunteers worked at the school on Aug. 21. The groups at the various schools were broken up by Bible fellowship classes and who had ties to particular schools, she said.

“It’s a tremendous help to our facilities coordinator, because she’s one person between two schools,” Dickerson said. “That’s just one less thing she has to worry about.”
S.W. Funk Industrial Contractors, Inc., donated the paint and materials for the project, she said, so the church was able to use the money it had allotted for Marguerite Christian for another project.

“It’s very humbling” to have people come out and take the time to help, she said.

Two or three schools had the materials for the project, Walker said, and the church paid for the materials for the other projects, which came to about $5,000. The money for the service project was part of the church’s general budget.

“Giving back is a huge part of what we do,” she said.

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