Through the Anoka-Hennepin School District 11’s Faith and Community Partnership, Riverdale Church in Andover has reached out to help students, families and staff of Adams Elementary School in Coon Rapids.
Members have provided basic needs for students, including cold weather clothing and food for holidays.
With the thought that the words “thank you” just aren’t enough, Adams Principal Jeremy Tammi created an iMovie with photos of Adams staff and students and facts about the school that he showed during a recent church service.
He shared that the number of students at the school has doubled in the past 10 years and last year, 60 percent of students received free or reduced price lunch.
That number is expected to increase, according to Tammi.
The number of parents and guardians who call the school for assistance with needs also increases each year, Tammi said.
“When people make a donation they don’t necessarily see the faces of those who they are helping,” he said.
“I wanted them to see a snap shot of where their resources and generosity are going.
“I also want them to know that Adams is very proud of its students and I wanted to thank them for helping us grow.”
After Tammi made his presentation, church members presented him with a check for $2,500. The money will be used for Adams families in need.
“Receiving the check blew me away,” Tammi said.
The partnership with Riverdale has far exceeded his expectations, he said.
For example, last year school staff discovered a student was sleeping in a bathtub.
Within three days of contacting the church, a new bed was delivered to the student’s home, according to Tammi.
In addition to helping students and their families, church members have reached out to Adams staff, Tammi said.
Last year members helped teachers pack up their classrooms; at the start of this school year they were treated to bagels, he said.
“It’s been a great partnership,” Tammi said.
“I want the members of the Riverdale community to know that what they are doing for families is tremendous.
“It really makes our job as educators a little easier to know the needs of our students are being met.
“As educators we feel like we are not going at this alone; we have people in the community who want to partner with us and make a difference in the lives of students.”
Amy Carroll, the Adams social worker, has worked closely with members of Riverdale Church.
It feels good to know that immediate support for Adams families is available and she can call them at any time, Carroll said.
Carroll was also very surprised by the $2,500 donation, she said.
“Jeremy called me on his way back from the church,” Carroll said. “I was shocked and excited when he told me the donation was $2,500.
“That will go a long way to help our families with basic needs.”
According to Rev. Rick Santiago, Riverdale Church pastor, the partnership with Adams began after a conversation with Marie Lenzmeier, a church member and retired Anoka-Hennepin employee.
Lenzmeier had a list of schools that had not been matched with a partner as part of the Anoka-Hennepin School District’s Faith and Community Partnership.
Lenzmeier said that Adams did not have a partner, but there was a discussion that the Coon Rapids school was too far from the Andover church and another school was selected.
Lenzmeier came back to Santiago shortly after their meeting and said she felt that they needed to connect with Adams.
Santiago and Lenzmeier met with Tammi and the partnership was formed.
Santiago said his church members find joy in being able to give and help others.
The $2,500 presented to Tammi was donated through the month of August and a family at Riverdale matched what was collected, he said.
Church members also donated school supplies for Adams students.
Riverdale plans to expand its reach and has adopted Crooked Lake Elementary School, where Lenzmeier taught fourth- and fifth-grade for almost 30 years.
“We understand there are families in our communities who need help,” Santiago said. “The church is there to impact the community and we want to team up with schools.”
Tammi said he is grateful for Santiago’s leadership.
“Pastor Rick sees the value of serving the community; he is a strong leader who is engaging his church community,” he said.
“Without his leadership I don’t know if the partnership would be as successful as it is.”