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Trinity UMC Fort Dodge Changes a Child’s Story
Jeff Becker knew his church could change a child’s story and as the chairperson of the mission committee at Trinity United Methodist Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa, he is used to challenges. During this past Advent, it dawned on him how it could be done. Pastors Ron Kitterman and Mike Willer had asked their church to “make the Christmas season about more than ourselves” and challenged them to reach further than they had before to make a difference in someone’s life. To Jeff, Bishop Trimble’s Change a Child’s Story initiative—giving one million books and reading one million hours—was the perfect way to make a difference.
With the challenge set forth, the first goal was to purchase one book for every member of the church which would mean they would need enough money to buy 750 books to give away. Trinity went beyond that and raised $5818—enough to purchase 750 books and then some!
Pastor Mike Willer explained, “When complete, our goal is that every student K-4th grade enrolled in the public school system in Fort Dodge will receive a book.”
So far they have given away 379 books to Duncombe Elementary, 342 books to Cooper Elementary, 600 books to Butler Elementary and 65 books to Christian Community School of Fort Dodge. They have ordered 200 books for Riverside Elementary and 220 books for the Lord’s Cupboard Food Pantry (K-8th grade).
“We are still looking for ways to spend the remaining money raised, so our story is not finished,” said Pastor Willer. After Trinity completes handing out the books, they intend to challenge their members with the reading portion of the Bishop’s initiative. “The hope is and will continue to be buying books. It will be the first step to forming partnerships with the schools and to help them in other ways. For instance, Butler Elementary has an after-school program call BLAST which helps students with homework, reading skills, and other things. They asked us when we delivered the books if we could find volunteers for the program. We have put out a request to our congregation.”
Trinity worked with Scholastic and their Family and Community Engagement (FACE) program to purchase the books. The FACE program is designed to provide educators, parents, and community leaders research-based solutions to help all children succeed inside and outside of the classroom.
When complete, Trinity UMC in Fort Dodge will give a book to more than 2,000 children in the public school system. And through the volunteers, teachers and families, they will make a difference in many more lives along the way.