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Vienna church gives students supplies for school year

Twins Sophia and Gabby Rost, 8, helped direct traffic at City Soul Ministries Sunday afternoon during the drive through school supply giveaway. (Photo by Candice Black)

VIENNA — As a way to prepare students for a successful school year, City Soul Ministries in Vienna gave away about 100 backpacks full of school supplies to the community.

For the past couple of years, City Soul Ministries has partnered with Suddenlink and Blueprints Foster Care to do the giveaway.

In previous years, the event was bigger with food and activities, but children’s pastor Emily Prather said the drive through setup has been successful.

“Suddenlink reached out to us and they wanted to see how they could help with the kids in the community,” Prather said.

Suddenlink donated the money for the 300 backpacks and 300 notebooks for the giveaway.

Last year, church member and state director for Blueprints Melinda Waterman said they ran out of backpacks before the event was over, so they prepared more backpacks this year.

The goal was to give all of them out today, and about 100 students got backpacks. The remaining 200 backpacks will be sent to Belpre Elementary, Belpre High, Blennerhassett Elementary, Emerson Elementary, Lubeck Elementary, Criss Elementary, Parkersburg High and Parkersburg South High schools.

With several members of the church fostering children, Waterman said members of the church saw the need to make sure foster children and parents have all the supplies they need.

“We work with foster care and adoption. They just saw the need, they saw lots of kids coming without supplies, and didn’t want them to be in a position where they didn’t have what they need to learn,” Waterman said. “I think everybody collectively just felt the big need to make sure that kids in the area have everything they need to succeed.”

West Virginia has an increased need for foster parents and Waterman said the church is trying to raise awareness and make sure foster parents and children are taken care of.

“West Virginia is in an actual foster case crisis, there’s not enough foster homes throughout the whole state. There are lots of children who are going to shelters and other places rather than foster homes,” Waterman said. “Because there is such a huge need, we’re constantly trying to raise awareness and push that need and then for those who are actually in care, we want to make sure they have what they need.”

Other than school supplies, City Soul Ministries offers canned goods, clothes or other needed supplies for the community.

For donation information, go to the Facebook page or citysoulministries.org. Donations can be monetary or items can be brought in as well.

“We try to be really involved in the community, we try to help in any way we can,” Waterman said.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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