As we begin our 13th year partnering with Oak Grove Bellemeade Elementary School, we want to thank all of you who helped make 2015-16 a great year and who have already contributed to a wonderful start for the 2016-17 school year.

Thank you to the many of you who served as classroom aides and as Literacy Team Mentors for kindergarten and first grade students. Thanks to all of you who donated men’s ties for Ties On Tuesdays and who donated dresses for fifth grade girls for their Moving-On Ceremony. Thanks also for assisting in providing music for the Ceremony and gift bags for all 90+ fifth graders. Thanks for photographing the fifth graders so their parents would have a picture to remember the close of their child’s elementary school years and for creating a display of the portraits for all to see.

Thanks to those of you who walked with students on Walk or Bike to School days. Thanks to those who participated in Field Day and the Celebrate Fathers & Families Festival. Thanks to those who supported our partnership with From the Heart Ministry that targets male youth from 12 to 20 providing breakfast, lessons on what it means to be a man, and fellowship through basketball. Thanks to those who supported our Saturday Scholar Academy that is in its fourth year. This partnership with Collegiate Schools focuses on ESL academics and enrichment and meets every Saturday morning from October through May.

Thanks to all who participated in providing food to our many students and families in need. We were able to provide Thanksgiving baskets, extra food for Spring Break, and snacks for many activities and events. Thanks for all who helped celebrate birthdays for students with cards and small gifts and those who helped with the monthly Celebrate RVA birthday parties led by Julia Warren.

Thanks for the many donated books that went to new teachers needing to build classroom libraries and to the Summer Book Bus. Through your generosity we were able to provide 100+ popular titles for the Book Bus. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the 150 or more students each week who were able to check out Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Harry Potter, Fancy Nancy Captain and many other favorites. Thanks to all who rode on the bus and provided snacks, prizes, and encouragement for the students.

Thanks for writing birthday cards and notes of encouragement for teachers and staff. Thanks for providing breakfast and lunches for teachers and holidays treats for all staff. Thanks for providing much appreciated gift baskets for monthly staff meetings.

Thanks to those who participated in Career Day and went along on field trips. Thanks to the many who read to students on Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss Day. Thanks especially to Bill Pike and Nell Chesley who read their own wonderful Christmas story and donated copies to all third graders.

Thanks to those who provided transportation to Westview and Collegiate summer camps. Thanks to those who participated in All God’s Children Camp. Thanks to all who provided meals and support to the programs at Central United Methodist Church that serves much of the Oak Grove community. Thanks to the Dream Team leaders who provide support for athletics for Hillside Court children. These children make up about 150 of our 650-student population.

Thanks to those who provided food and hospitality for last year’s and this year’s Back to School Luncheon for teachers and staff. These Luncheons provide a great opportunity for staff to get together with volunteers and receive our prayers and offers of support for the coming school year.

Thanks to the many, many of you who donated Apple Angel Tree school supplies both last year and this year to get all the teachers off to a good start. Special thanks to Vacation Bible School students who both last year and this year contributed lots of pencils, notebooks, composition books, and glue sticks. Our 4th & 5th grade VBS students created 20 Bluebird Houses and delivered them during a van trip to the school in July. Make sure to check out the bulletin board outside Judy’s office to see the faces of some of the recipients of your generosity.

We have been serving at Oak Grove long enough to see our graduates move through middle and high school and were able to celebrate high school graduations and college acceptances this year. What a thrill to see the fine young adults these students have become. Comparing these confident young people to the scared young immigrant or the troubled first or second grader we first met is a testament to the effectiveness of your continued support of our Oak Grove ministry.

We look forward to working with you this year and hope to highlight for you each month one of our programs or partnerships. There are many exciting things happening. Please join us!