- November 8, 2017
Sometimes, a helping hand can make all the difference in the world.
In the case of Killarney Elementary School, that hand up came from the folks at Calvary Orlando who have helped the school with multiple projects — the first of which was aimed at sprucing up the campus.
“As a church, we decided that we would partner with local schools and local organizations just to be a church in the community,” said Manny Rosario, the church’s outreach pastor. “One of the objectives and goals was to partner with Killarney Elementary.
“Killarney Elementary’s demographic — although it is in Winter Park — has a high amount of transient families,” he said. “I want to say about 35% of their students are homeless, and when I say homeless, they live in weekly stay hotels. … It’s a 100% free-lunch school.”
The first step was to help clean the campus in spots that needed it the most.
For three to four hours in the middle of July, about 45 volunteers made the short trek over to campus to clean up trash, do some minor landscape work and fix the garden area, power-wash buildings and even repainted doors. Prior to the cleanup, the church had met with school administration to learn their greatest needs.
And it was actually the simple repainting of doors to the school’s media center from brown to shamrock green that had one of the most positive effects.
“Kelly Steinke — who is the principal — she took a picture of it and she said, ‘My media center director is going to be so happy when she sees these doors painted, she has been waiting for so long for change,’” Rosario said. “And she (Steinke) came to me and said, ‘She is in tears because she is excited about coming back for the new school year and having fresh painted doors.’ That was an awesome highlight for that project.”
The cleanup itself is based on a 90-day project the church is participating in called “Serve the City,” a church-wide outreach campaign to help local organizations.
Rosario said more than 150 volunteers have signed up to help among all the current initiatives the church is undertaking.
Most recently, those volunteers from the church helped collect a school bus full of supplies for students to utilize for this new school year. For a week, a school bus — loaned to Calvary by Orange County Public Schools — sat in the church’s parking lot as it was packed with tons of school supplies just for the kids at Killarney.
“This Tuesday (Aug. 7), we dropped off (more than) 150 backpacks, (more than) 400 notebooks, and pens and paper,” Rosario said. “We had local partners — along with the church — fill that bus. It was amazing to see all the teachers and faculty and unload this delivery of all these school supplies — it was a lot of fun.”
And the good deeds of those at Calvary won’t stop now that the school year has started, Rosario said. The church already has future plans for those teachers and students at Killarney.
Currently, Calvary is putting on its “Shamrock Shake,” where members and local civic leaders come in to have conversations with students.
“Our main goal is to let them know that there is hope,” Rosario said. “If we can spark hope into somebody’s life — spark hope into a mother that is struggling in getting school supplies, (or) spark hope in a kid that is fighting anxieties of coming to school and not having clothes for the school year — (we can) help them know that it’s not over and they don’t have to live in despair.”