The supplies came pouring in despite any demand.

And that's been part of the beauty of the Caring Closet.

Oakley Elementary staff was recently surprised to learn that its school had been chosen by Bread of Life Community Church to set up a classroom supplies area for students.

"I do not know how we were selected to receive these special items," Principal Kathy Kruse said. "Someone from the church contacted the school and started the conversation with the office manager, Corinne Evans."

That led to a closet filled with much-needed items, including scissors, glue sticks, crayons, markers, pencils and pens, binder paper, notebooks, binders and items for teachers such as tissues and hand sanitizers.

Kruse said this is the first time her school has been gifted in such a big way.

"We have had backpacks and supplies donated in the past," she said.

"However, it was not set up like the Caring Closet, where students can come down and make selections of the items that they need."

The concept is simple but oh-so-helpful. If a teacher sees a student without personal supplies, he or she sends them to "shop" in the closet.

Edward L. Riley, pastor at Oakley's Bread of Life, said the idea stemmed from the church's youth group.

"Our youth and young adult director, Donna Williams, had the young people determine what they would like to do as an outreach to the community.


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They decided to purchase school supplies for needy children at a local elementary school," Riley said. It's the first time this group has done this type of project.

Riley said Oakley Elementary was chosen because "it was the school that our church started meeting at when the ministry was formed in 2000."

He added that one of the church's four core values is strengthening the family through activities.

"This effort addresses that value," he said. "Our young people are ecstatic about helping these kids."

All the supplies have been donated by church members, and the plan is to continue replenishing with continued contributions as well as solicit additional goods from local businesses.

"We hope to expand our donations by giving backpacks as well," Riley said.

The Caring Closet has been a welcome sight to those who need the school supplies.

"The students who have come down to get supplies have big smiles on their faces," Kruse said.

"They (are) very happy and appreciative."

She noted she and staff are thrilled with this new connection.

"(They) are more than happy to replenish things when we need them. (They) told us to call when we need (more) or if there is something they did not bring that we need.

The Caring Closet -- and caring ways of the youth group -- has made everyone "feel very appreciative of the caring community around us.

"It is so wonderful to know that others want to give back."

For more information and to find out how to help, call Oakley Elementary at 925-625-7050 or Bread of Life Community Church at 925-627-6948.

Reach Trine Gallegos at TrineG@att.net