(I saw this slogan “Doing Good in the ‘Hood” on an urban farm flyer once. It’s catchy, and I like it.)

As part of our covenant life, we agree to serve together once weekly. Our service for the last 3 years has been focused on the youth programs at North City Church of Christ. In the school year, we work with around 35 kids, grades K-8. We work on strengthening skills in math and reading, have a Bible class, and share dinner together. We also have an enrichment/life skill class each semester. Leclaire Christian Church in Edwardsville, IL brings around 10 wonderfully dedicated adults each week to assist in the program. (Our neighborhood has not only the lowest literacy rates in St. Louis, but in the entire state of Missouri. Here’s an interesting study. Many of the children we tutor are below grade level, and several have an Individualized Education Plan.)

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In the summer, we have a program that lasts 3 to 6 weeks, depending on volunteer availability. This year we had groups from Tennessee and Texas prepare classes for the program. Like tutoring, we learn Bible stories and songs, play together, and eat together. This summer we had a total of 82 kids enrolled, and most days 55+ attended.

To round ouIMG_2716t the summer and gear up for school, our church hosted a Back to School Store today. The children earnIMG_2725 “bucks” based on their attendance and behavior in the program, and get to shop for supplies accordingly. In less than an hour and half, nearly 60 children had filled their new backpacks with the supplies they will need for the upcoming school year. McKnight Crossings Church of Christ and other Christians donated many of the supplies.

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Sometimes people ask us why we live here (in the ‘hood) and work with an inner city church. The simplest answer is that we want to be good neighbors.  When we call places in a derogatory way ‘The Hood’, I think we are forgetting that hood is short for NEIGHBORhood. Our experience here has shown us that the Neighbor hasn’t been taken out, not in this Hood anyway. The people who live around us have been hands down the best neighbors we’ve ever had. When my daughter fell off her bike yesterday, I came outside to see our dear neighbor Jan hugging Destiny to help her calm down. We are simply trying to mirror our neighbors in their kindness, acceptance, and hospitality.

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