The “We Are Our Brother’s Keeper” community initiative, run by the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, was back in full force last Saturday — giving out school supplies to families in the D.C. area.
It’s the initiative’s 22nd year helping families in underserved communities. This is the first year since the pandemic that volunteer ranks were fully staffed, according to organizers.
Throughout the morning, more than 645 families drove up to George Washington Middle School to greet cheerful volunteers with smiles all around.
“We gave them backpacks. We gave them means to buy uniforms, and a coat if they needed it,” said Rev. Marcia Norfleet, assistant to the pastor for missions at the church. “We’re trying to meet the need of the community however we can, in whatever way.”
Families also received gift cards to buy other supplies they needed, including food.
“A lot of these folks have fallen on hard times for whatever reason,” Norfleet said. “We served families who lost their jobs, their homes, during the pandemic. They are so happy to see us when they pull up. To be out there with so many people, so many smiling faces greeting them, that smile becomes contagious.”
Norfleet said that monetary donations and donated supplies that were given to the church throughout the year made the event possible.
Whatever is not given out, the church will donate to Title I schools in the D.C. area. These are schools with high numbers or high percentages of students from low-income families.
The idea is to create a reserve of supplies so students and families do not have to spend a lot to replace the supplies when they get used up.
“Whenever that runs out, the school will be able to supplement,” Norfleet said. “They’re able to get something from their schools if they don’t have anything.”
Thousands of students have been served by the program.
“We were being a blessing to somebody else, but we were blessed in the process,” Norfleet said, adding that the church is trying to be a resource for anyone in the community, both inside and outside the doors of their congregation.
“We’re trying to extend that love,” Norfleet said. “And have an openness that will invite people into union with each other. That’s the mission of Brother’s Keeper.”