Easter service offering funds St. Louis Public Schools literacy - KMOV.com

Easter service offering funds St. Louis Public Schools literacy program

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All donations collected during the offering at this Easter Sunday service at the Peabody Opera House will go toward funding a literacy program at St. Louis Public Schools. (Credit: KMOV) All donations collected during the offering at this Easter Sunday service at the Peabody Opera House will go toward funding a literacy program at St. Louis Public Schools. (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

A special Easter gift went to elementary schools in the St. Louis Public School (SLPS) District on Sunday.

In a large service at the Peabody Opera House, hosted by The Gathering United Methodist Church, all the donations made in the church offering went directly to funding the literacy project at Peabody Elementary and Washing Elementary.

The Literacy Project started about three years ago in a collaboration with SLPS and The Gathering. Volunteer mentors from the church meet with 60 first graders and kindergartners on a weekly basis to help them with reading, writing, spelling and pronunciation.

Since the program has been in place, both schools have seen significant improvements in reading and vocabulary scores.

"She talks about her tee-tee (aunt) a lot and her grandma and her family, so it's good to have fun but also get to know her on a little deeper level too," Rachel Wesenberg said, who is a mentor to first grader Lyric.

These strong relationships are invaluable for students, Peabody Principal Monica Miller-Seawood said.

"Oh my goodness, they light up when they see their mentors," Miller-Seawood said.

The principal said many of these children live in violent neighborhoods, which impacts their learning and social development.

"Just this past summer, in the Peabody Housing Complex there were three homicides in 30 days, so our students actively see that," Miller-Seawood said.

Seeing their mentors provide the kids with a sense of stability and someone to trust.

"The students have such big hearts, despite all the things that are going on," said Wesenberg.

The offering collected at The Gathering Easter service will go toward providing books, markers, white boards and board games, all tools to help the kids learn. Once a month, the kids get to choose a book to take home, in an effort to continue the love of reading at home and start their own libraries.

The Gathering said it costs approximately $20,000 to establish a new school partnership, so funding is crucial to expand reach and mentorship to other schools in the district.

The program will expand to a third school in fall 2018. More volunteers will be needed to help in this expansion as well.

If you want to donate to the Literacy Project, click here. You can select 'Literacy Project' next to the spot where you enter your donation amount.

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