Arizona Church Ministers at Public School

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Paula Wigboldy drove up to Yavapai Elementary, a public school in Scottsdale, Ariz. She unloaded some bags and popped into the office.

“I just dropped off some clothes and stuff,” she announced.

Wigboldy is a familiar visitor. A member of Scottsdale’s Palm Lane Christian Reformed Church, she’s helping lead the church’s effort to connect with its neighborhood through the public school.

That neighborhood has changed since the church was founded, as wealthier residents moved out and recent immigrants moved in. Wigboldy said the church wants to reach out to its new neighbors.

“It’s God’s gift to me,” she said. “He said, ‘Here, minister to these people.’”

In addition to clothes for students, church members have provided groceries, holiday gifts, and school supplies. They’ve hosted community meals, a soccer clinic, and a water fun night.

Kids at the church get involved too. The GEMS girls’ club painted boxes of donated classroom supplies, and the local Christian school’s band joined the public school band for a concert at the church.

Yavapai principal Wendy Cohen said the concert was the school’s way to give something back to the church. She dismissed suggestions that a church and a public school shouldn’t mix.

“They’re asking to be good to people,” she said. “It’s as simple as that. It means the world to our families that other people care.”

Wigboldy said a movie night is next, then maybe cooking classes. She offered a simple method for reaching out through a public school: “I just kept asking, ‘What else can I do?’ And the school told me, and I said, ‘OK, and what else?’”


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