Local leaders partner with World Vision international to bring school supplies to elementary schools

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 22, 2019

Local elected officials, religious leaders and civic leaders partnered with World Vision International, to provide more than 1,000 students in Covington County with school supplies.

“Scott Dawson and World Vision have done something really remarkable here in Covington County and I am proud to be a part of it,” Covington County District Attorney Walt Merrell said. “We certainly appreciate the help of county commission chairman Greg White and all three school boards.”

Merrell quoted Victor Hugo saying, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

“I can tell you as the district attorney that two things that I routinely advocate for are anything we can do for our school systems and anything we can do for support education,” Merrell said. “I know that if we support those two things, then we will see a decrease in crime. When I was made aware of this opportunity, I thought, ‘What better cause could there be?’ I want to give appreciation to Scott, not only that he did this, but that Covington County didn’t get overlooked. We are a great center for culture in Alabama, but we often see dollars go to bigger cities, and we are often overlooked. So, Scott, we thank you for recognizing that there are good people in small places.”

Dawson said instead of going back on all of the things he promised in his campaign, he decided to work on those core values.

“We can all be involved and do our civic duty in our communities,” Dawson said. “So many of us want to sit on the sidelines. This started out as just an understanding of the need of education of Title I students. Then when we were approached by World Vision, based out of Seattle, Wash., I was able to tour their facility and see what they were doing with Title One students and I thought, ‘That is what needs to happen in the state of Alabama.’”

He came back to Alabama with World Vision on his mind and started working with faith-based leaders, local pastors and elected officials.

“We always say that government is not the answer to every need, but how can we go about this where the community can rise up and start meeting some of these needs,” Dawson said. “Through hard work and good networking, we were able to bring in a truckload of supplies for Title I students. Birmingham will be the distribution center, we are able to help 4,500 Title I students in and around the Birmingham area, but we saw the need in rural areas, like Covington County. Birmingham and Covington County were the only two school districts where the supplies went to this year.”

Every single school in the county received enough supplies to last the entire school year.

“Every case that we brought has enough supplies in it for 30 children,” Dawson said. “The only request that we have made and the superintendents have graciously accepted is that the teacher open the box in front of their students. So, we can communicate that teachers really are the heroes. They are the ones on the front lines for today’s students. If we can get these kids reading, writing and doing arithmetic, then that will greatly move our state in the right direction.”

Covington County Commission chairman Greg White was another greatly involved in bringing the school supplies to the county.

“Being able to impact 1,000 young lives and their families is such a pleasure,” White said. “As I observe the terrible plight many in our communities face, I’m reminded that we can change their circumstances one child at a time. This effort is a great first step.”

Covington County superintendent Shannon Driver said these supplies are greatly appreciated because principals know who the students are that can’t afford school supplies.

“Teachers are famous for pulling money out from their own pocket trying to supply their kids with school supplies,” Driver said. “We are going to see that these students needs are met, but having somebody come in and provide that is truly a blessing. You can see the smiles on teachers’ faces already, knowing that they have enough resources to last an entire school year.”