• EU distributes hoodies, pay lunch bills for Weller kids
• More of the sustained partnership between Evangel and Weller
• Weller is most ethnically diverse elementary school in SPS
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Evangel University athletes have "upped their game" this fall with the donation of sweatshirt hoodies to all 367 students, teachers and staff at Weller Elementary School.
In addition, excess funds raised for the project were used to pay off the student lunch balances at the school. Those bills currently total nearly $500.
This year, 89% of the students qualify for free/reduced lunch.
The Weller students gathered for an assembly at 9 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 9, where they learned of the gifts.
Meghan Reed, a 2013 Evangel graduate and School Community Liaison for Weller, is the point person for this project.
"We announced the gifts the last 5-10 minutes of the assembly, thanked the donors, and presented the check," she explained. "Then students were dismissed to classrooms where the Evangel athletes delivered the hoodies!"
Evangel has a decades-long relationship with Weller, which is located a couple of blocks north of campus.
In the past, specific classes of Weller students have received Evangel sweatshirts in February and were then invited with their families to a home basketball game.
"This fall, we were blessed to have had great success in our fundraising efforts, and that was magnified by a surprise offer from an Evangel graduate to produce the shirts at an exceptional price," said Dr. Dennis McDonald, director of athletics.
"As a result, we are pleased to be able to upgrade our gift to really nice hoodies and to provide every student with one before the holidays," said McDonald.
The supplier is John Wachob, a 1997 Evangel graduate and former Evangel football player, who co-owns CYAN Creative & Nixa Custom Screenprint, in Nixa, Missouri.
A vision for their future
At Weller, the students come from around the world. As the most ethnically diverse elementary school in Springfield, Weller is an English Language Learners site. Families from the continents of Asia, Europe, Central America and Africa have kids who attend pre-K through 5th grade at Weller.
Dr. Rebecca Donaldson, principal, has a goal to help her students develop a vision for their future.
"We are trying to help our students see college as a realistic goal, and this ongoing relationship with Evangel University is a great way to highlight that," she said.
"At the same time, we want to show Evangel students how community service through partnering is a good thing for everyone," she said. Donaldson earned her master's degree from Evangel in 2004.
Students of all majors at Evangel are involved in helping the Weller students to think positively about academics and opportunities.
Education majors, social work majors, business majors and student-athletes alike volunteer on a regular basis, both at the school and through the Boys & Girls Clubs in the area.
The Evangel TOUCHdown Academic Program is a mentoring program that offers opportunities for one-on-one involvement over an extended period of time, as EU athletes help the students set and meet academic goals.
Weller Family Night at Evangel
On February 19, 2020, students, families, teachers and staff of Weller Elementary will be invited to wear their hoodies and attend a Weller Family Night at Evangel University. The guests will be treated to a home game for the men and women's basketball teams.
The Weller Elementary Choir will sing the National Anthem prior to the men's game.
For more information, contact Dr. Dennis McDonald at (417)-865-2811 ext. 7285
Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally. Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,300 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 70 undergraduate majors and 19 master's and doctoral degrees.