Stuff the Bus, Adopt-A-Student need donations as schooltime approaches

READY TO HELP — The Rev. Darrell Cummings, senior pastor of the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple, and his wife, Latisha, make preparations at the North Wheeling Community Dream Center for the church’s Adopt-a-Student program. - Scott McCloskey

WHEELING — It’s almost time for students to head back to the classroom, but many area families don’t have the funds to purchase all the necessary school supplies for their children.

That’s why the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple is hosting its annual Adopt-a-Student program, which will begin Saturday with its “Stuff the Bus” event at the St. Clairsville Wal-Mart, followed by the distribution of free supplies to area children and families at the North Wheeling Community Dream Center, 407 Main St., on Aug. 12.

Students must be present to receive the supplies and it will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Aug. 13, the church will host a back-to-school festival at Wheeling Park’s amphitheater to help brighten up the beginning of the school season for area kids, according to the Rev. Darrell Cummings, the church’s senior pastor.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the church is asking area residents to drop off new or “gently used” supplies to “stuff the bus” that will be parked in front of the St. Clairsville Wal-Mart. Needed items include bookbags, notebooks, erasers, pens and pencils.

Cummings said all the supplies, including additional household supplies, will be distributed to families in need during the Adopt-a-Student program beginning at 10 a.m. Aug. 12 at the Dream Center in North Wheeling. Supplies will be distributed until they run out.

“We have been doing this Adopt-a-Student program since 1990, so this is our 27th year. It’s successful in light of the fact that we’ve helped over a generation of people,” Cummings said. “Some people who we helped in the (1990s) have been kind enough from time to time to come back and help us in the 2000s because it helped them as a child.”

Cummings said church members want to do everything they can “to send the kids back to school with a smile.” He added the church will provide students with additional supplies throughout the school year through its holiday giveaways at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

“So we adopt you for the whole year. It’s not just a one-time event. All year long, if you tell us you are in need, as long as we have it we will share it with you,” Cummings said.

He said the church will host the free back to school festival at the Wheeling Park Amphitheater beginning at 5 p.m. on Aug. 13.

There will be inflatable activities, games, food and prizes.

“What we are trying to do is get the kids excited about going back to school. They see we are excited, that we believe in their destiny, we believe in their future and we are making an investment and that we believe years later it will pay off in dividends,” Cummings said.

Donations for the Adopt-a-Student program also can be made at any WesBanco branch to the Adopt-a-Student account.