"Love thy neighbor" inspires local church to help District 66 students

In the Classroom: Back to School
Posted at 3:30 PM, Jul 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-31 22:14:33-04

A local church works to live out the words, "love thy neighbor." 

West Hills Church near 84th and Center has teamed up with nearby Westgate Elementary for about 15 years. Their partnership is visible as students and teachers go back to the school. Each year, members of the church donate hundreds of school supplies. 

"If we have some shortages, they'll be able to fill in some of those holes and make sure we'll have what we need for all of our students," said Jay Elliott who is the teacher leader and assistant principal at the school. Westgate is a Title 1 school because of the number of low income families they have. The families have a need. 

Caitlin O'Hare is the director of mission ministry at West Hills Church. She says the members are always happy to help the students. She says it's a core part of Jesus' teachings. "Love God and love your neighbor, and he meant it.  And that doesn't just mean your neighbor in some abstract sense it actually means your literal neighbor."
The church doesn't stop at school supplies either. They will be hosting a back-to-school bake sale as a fundraising effort. During teacher conferences, they bring in meals for the staff. The church has even collected winter clothes to donate to the students. 
Elliott and O'Hare both spoke highly of their partnership. 
The school's mission statement, which the students recite every day is, "we can, we will." Elliott hopes the children believe that phrase, and efforts like these help them focus on learning. "There's no obstacles they can't overcome, there's no challenges that are too big, whatever their dreams are, they can accomplish those things as they work through them, and we talk about that every day."