Martin Luther once said, "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."
Five hundred years later, retired educator Jeannette Kelley did just that. The seeds she sowed in 2000 propagated Project Apple Tree, a back-to-school initiative to make the world a little better for children in need.
|A card for every|
child aids shoppers
Through Project Apple Tree, qualified pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students in the Belton, TX ISD receive everything they need to start the school year on the right foot--new shoes, complete clothing outfit, grade-level school supplies, backpack, dental and hygiene kits, gospel tract, plus the opportunity for free immunizations and a professional haircut. In 2012, Bibles were given by Fort Hood.
Jeannette knows from experience that being prepared helps children feel better about themselves--and when they feel good about themselves, they do better in school. In fact, research shows that without school supplies, children have lower attendance rates, are more likely to perform poorly, and are more likely to eventually drop out. (See Kids in Need Foundation
Bags of clothing and supplies personalized with Scripture
This school year, 1,600 children were blessed through the project. "God has never allowed us not
to have a sponsored child," Jeannette said. "We have wonderful shoppers." In a feat of organizational super-heroism, clothing and supplies are matched to the exact specification of each child, and provided in bags labeled by name.
Distribution Day occurs one week before the start of school, and has grown bigger every year. This time, it was a culmination of the prayers and efforts of more than 24 local churches assisted by the University of Mary Hardin Baylor, the Belton Police Department, businesses, service clubs, organizations, schools, and individuals. Scientists
say it takes the energy of 50 leaves to produce one shiny apple. In Belton, the energy of thousands of volunteers is equally productive, putting the polish on the faces of deserving children in the community.