Labor of love: Church group spends Labor Day giving away free school supplies

School supply lists are not short. Backpacks, notebooks, pencils, folders are but a few items that scratch the surface. Costs add up quickly and many families struggle to meet them. 

To aid struggling members in their community on the last weekend before school starts, members of Greater St. Paul Church of God in Christ and its youth group stood in the church parking lot on 40th and 4th Ave. South in Minneapolis and gave away free school supplies. 

For her Labor Day, Glory Williams, a 16-year-old who starts her junior year at Jefferson High School this fall, held a decorated placard that read, “Free backpacks and school supplies.” Passersby that saw the sign and approached the table in need of school essentials were given a backpack filled with supplies like pencils, coloring pencils, and notebooks. 

The church members were like a sports team or extracurricular school program that fundraises by waving over drivers for an impromptu car wash and donation, except in reverse —they were the ones offering the spontaneous charity. In all, they gave away over 50 backpacks stuffed with supplies. 

Each item was purchased with money from church offerings or from the pocket of the youth members and youth leader Evelyn Woods. She said plenty of people see the sign and table and walk right up to them, relieved to return to their children with new supplies. 

“People come and sometimes donate,” said Woods. 

It’s the group’s second year holding the Labor Day event. Last year, they gave away nearly 70 bags. Next year, said Greater St. Paul member Amminah Ligh, the group hopes to give away 500 bags and supplies. 

The youth group has also recently started another charitable event called Christmas in July. The church donates gently used items of all sorts — household, furniture, clothing, tools, schools supplies — and gives them away.