School is more than supplies

  • Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The reflection of a star is captured in the sunglasses of an unidentified child. The young lady was one of over 250 people who attended a backpack distribution hosted by the local organizations Father/Son, Mother/Daughter Connection and the Williamsburg County Ministerial Alliance. PHOTO BY MICHAELE DUKE

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They may seem to be doing nothing more than sitting around and chatting but behind this group of men sipping coffee at McDonald’s in Kingstree is in reality a driving force in making a difference in the lives of those needing it the most. Members of the Father/Son, Mother/Daughter Connection (FSMDC) recently held a backpack giveaway for local school children at the Williamsburg County Recreation Center.

The men, along with the Williamsburg County Ministerial Alliance (WCMA), passed out over 200 book bags, backpacks, schools supplies, and other items.

WCMA President the Rev. Franklin Fulmore said the alliance, which is made up of approximately 35 ministers is focused on meeting the spiritual and physical needs of the community. “We believe in helping and doing for the community and for the children,” said Fulmore. “We want to bless others because the Lord has blessed us. This is one way that we can bless others by giving. We know that it’s more bless to give than to receive.”

Bishop Robert Hanna, who rarely misses a morning at McDonald’s, said this is the first time the group has provided backpacks. “The first two years we had hotdogs and hamburgers - like a get-together,” said Hanna who is also a member of the (WCMA). “But this time it has really mushroomed and we’re so glad that they (WCMA) came in, because they really, really helped us a lot.”

FSMDC President Alfred Gamble said the event is extremely important for the community. “It helps families and children,” said Gamble. “Three years ago Rev. (Robert) Hanna came to us one morning at McDonald’s and said he had a vision. And that’s how it started.”

The event has grown exponentially since 2011, when FSMDC co-founders, Bishop Hanna and Vincent McCrea, brought a dream to life. McCrea recalled the conversation that transpired over a “simple cup of coffee.” “Dreams can come true,” said McCrea. “Me and the bishop were drinking some wonderful McDonald’s coffee when I told bishop I had a dream about the Father and Son - and lets get together and do something...lets get with the fathers and the sons and get them back together. And he said, you know, I was thinking about that same thing too. Look at where we are now.”

The children also received a book courtesy of the United Methodist Churches of South Carolina, which collected a million age-appropriate books for pre-school and elementary school children. “We’re changing the Corridor of Shame to the Corridor of Faith, Hope and Love,” said St. Paul United Methodist Church Rev. James C. Lane, who is also a member of the Father/Son, Mother/Daughter Connection. “Part of the effort is to ensure that each child has reading material in their home.” The Million Book Effort was a dream of the South Carolina Conference. The goal was met June 3, 2014. Roughly 83,500 books were distributed per district and roughly 1,000 books per church.

Attendants also enjoyed several guest speakers who delivered inspirational messages. Bob Johnson, owner of an Atlanta McDonald’s and franchises in Kingstree and Lake City, drove from Atlanta the night before in order to attend the event. Johnson used his time to focus on the parents. “We realize that the parents are the focus of the family,” said Johnson. “And when they take interest in their children that they do better in life, we have a better community.”

Johnson added that being a responsible parent matters as well. He recalled growing up in Huston and his parents who instilled the importance of getting an education. “You need to make sure to continue to work with your young people and encourage them to go and do the best they can in school, pay attention, be on time, attend your classes.” Johnson inspired the kids by saying he expects them to be someone special,“ said Johnson who donated pencils, rulers, erasers, and paper.

Other speakers included: Col. Clarence Hilton, Deputy Commander for the Military Intelligence Readiness Command; Kingstree Senior High Football Coach Charlie Brown, and Jacob Wilson, Agent in Charge of Williamsburg Pardon and Parole. The Rev. Linwood Cooper introduced each speaker. “We hope that you (children and parents) will leave today motivated a little bit and with some insight on what your future might be like,” the reverend said to the crowd. “The bottom line is, when you leave you’ll have something more than a book bag. Do I get an Amen?”

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