Evangel University pays off school's lunch debt, shares another holiday gift

Published: Dec. 9, 2019 at 11:48 AM CST
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Students at Springfield's Weller Elementary received a special gift from Evangel University students.

Money raised by the athletics department at Evangel paid for a hoodie for every student. The money also paid off the school lunch debt of every student.

Evangel University is only a couple of blocks south of Weller Elementary School. And the university has a long relationship with the school. Every week, more than 100 Evangel students spend time there through programs such as reading buddies or half-hour heroes, who just come and play with the kids.

In the past, Evangel University has given sweatshirts to one class each year and invited those kids to an Evangel home basketball game. But this year, the athletic department fundraising went very well, and an Evangel graduate produced the shirts at a great price. So they were able to give even nicer hoodies to all 367 students, teachers and staff. And the whole school is invited to a game. With the extra money raised, they were able to pay off all overdue lunch balances at the school, nearly $500.

Nearly 90% of students at the school qualify for free or reduced lunch. Evangel student athletes delivered the sweatshirts to each classroom and the kids got to put on their new hoodies.

"I think today is such an exciting day for Weller because it just highlights the partnership that we have with the Evangel University," said Meghan Reed of Weller Elementary School. "They are such a huge part of our school community, and it's always so exciting when we have a way to highlight all that they do for our school."

Besides the practical use in keeping kids warm, Evangel University and Weller staff all hope that the sweatshirts help the students visualize themselves someday as university students. They want them to know going to college is a possibility for their own futures.