Church erases lunch debt

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Abundant Life Church in Westfield was looking for ways to give back to its community. Lead Pastor Charles Riley spent time contemplating what area a donation could make the most impact.

From left, Pastor Charles Riley, Westfield Washington Schools Supt. Sherry Grate, Campus Director Cayla Bittles and Campus Pastor Toph Elkins. (Submitted photo)

“Our mission statement is we will give life, love and value to everyone, everywhere, every day,” Riley said. “We couldn’t think of anything better than helping families and kids have lunch at school.”

The church then contacted local schools to find out the outstanding balance of students’ lunch debt. Washington Woods Elementary School had more than $8,000 in outstanding lunch costs, which Abundant Life paid.

“Abundant Life Church has been a tremendous partner for us,” WWES Principal Tom Hakim said. “They are one of the most proactive church communities. They’re always trying to figure out how they can continue to help.”

The church presented the donation to the school Dec. 19, 2019. The school then contacted each family personally to tell them their lunch debt was paid.

“We were able to make a lot of personal phone calls, which I can tell you was the most exciting thing,” Hakim said. “I don’t think I had a single family that I connected with that wasn’t either in shock or extremely happy. Not only were we able to eliminate that debt, but we were also able to add a $25 buffer for each family.”

The school is grateful for the help of ALC and its congregation.

“For us to wipe that slate clean for those families was awesome,” Hakim said.

ALC also made donations to schools in Kokomo and Peru.

“We were very excited to do it,” Riley said. “We wanted to help kids tangibly. We’ve had great feedback from the schools. I think it’s great when a local church can impact local schools and be a community partner.”

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