The School Supplies Drive at LCC this year was invisible. I did peek. But I never actually saw anyone put anything into the bins we had set out in the Narthex. Yet the pile grew. I think of it as The Pile, capitalized, because it grew so magically, expanding day by day, week by week. Kind of like the five loaves and two fish. And, although the Drive was invisible to me, the school supplies were real. And they were wonderful.
The Pile first filled the giant basket, then spilled over into four large plastic bins. The Pile was colorful, and The Pile was exciting. It was impossible not to touch, to rummage, to gaze, to exclaim. The pads of paper, so ready for lists, homework notes, and doodles. The composition books, ready for stories, important instructions, and the cell phone numbers of new friends – or the draft of a first novel! So many pencils, ready to meet paper. Sharpeners to keep them perfectly pointed, erasers to fix oopsies. Crayons for hands large and small, in bright primary colors. Dozens of packs of filler paper ready to become sheets of graded homework. And so much glue!
The Pile: It was a bounty of possibilities, resources for creative projects, and endless invitations to fill graphic spaces with words and ideas. The Pile made me dizzy. Can a person salivate over fresh notebooks and memo pads? And did I mention the hand calculators, large and small? Actual electronic magic?
By its final day, The Pile overflowed with forty-four backpacks!! Just imagine! They came in colors both ordinary and unusual, some relatively plain, most with bright patterns, all with intriguing pockets and zippered compartments for small valuables and important objects. All of them had straps, promising easy transport for today’s well-equipped student. Lots of room for a full load of school supplies, not to mention necessary items such as rain gear and snacks.
This morning (I am writing this on Wednesday, August 11), I watched the flow of students on foot, in buses, and in automobiles, as they headed toward the first day of school. The energy levels of all parties, parents included, were high. I like to think about the 1500 children currently in foster care in Pinellas County, bouncing along more confidently today, with their portion of the gifts LCC so generously provided from The Pile. This was a good way to share God’s love with our neighbors. Thanks, folks!