Kentucky pastor helps raise money for homeless high school students
Through a donation campaign, Pastor Rob Beckett of Shepherdsville Church of the Nazarene in Kentucky raised enough money to buy cap and gowns for 13 homeless high school seniors, allowing them to walk at graduation.
The church had previously developed relationships with the local elementary and middle schools but had yet to find a way to get involved with the high school, Bullitt Central. That started to change this year as the youth resource leader at the school, Christie Harden, asked for the church’s assistance at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“It was almost like an ‘arms-length’ relationship,” Beckett said. “They said they needed something, she reached out and we [helped].”
Beckett wanted to take the partnership further, so he shared about his desire to be involved. Harden listened and told him of the school’s current need.
“She said that right now the immediate need is that she had 13 homeless students that still didn’t have caps and gowns for graduation,” Beckett said. “She said they are 50 bucks a piece for each child. So, I was just thinking in my head as she’s talking that I’ll bring it before the church and maybe we can help with five or six of them.”
As he left the school, Beckett decided to start a Facebook fundraiser. The initial goal for $650, enough money to cover all 13 students, was met and surpassed in less than three hours. As of 14 February, the church has raised $6,200.
“I thought if we got one or two people to donate that would be good,” Beckett said. “But it’s just been blown completely out of the water.”
Beckett has been looking for a way to get involved with the high school since he began his pastorate at the Shepherdsville Church four years ago. With the funds Beckett was able to raise, he says the relationship between the church and the school has started to change.
“It’s no longer at arms-length,” Beckett said. “…now [Harden] is talking about her dreams for the kids and things she wants to do for them.”
Poverty is an issue in Shepherdsville, where 25 percent of youth under 18 are living below the poverty line. Beckett estimates that there are roughly 50 to 60 homeless students at Bullitt Central and nearly the same amount at Bullitt North. Now, thanks to the generous donations, Beckett and Harden are discussing ways to use the extra money. One of those ways they hope to use it is to help provide the homeless students with a safe place to study and spend time with friends.
“We’re making plans, getting community leaders together, and we’re wanting to come together and dream and say, ‘What can we do to make it even better for the kids?’” Beckett said.
Shepherdsville Church of the Nazarene has about 25 attendees on Sunday mornings, and Beckett hopes to inspire other small churches to look for ways to impact their communities.
“If anybody is reading this that is a small church and doesn’t think that they can do much, it’s not true,” Beckett said. “God can use you no matter how big or small your church is.”