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(Previously published by Heather Hahn, UMNS)

Rev. Dan Hurlbert

The Rev. Dan Hurlbert in this photo from before COVID-19 stands with children who have received backpacks from Prescott United Methodist Church in Arizona. This year, the church is giving away laptops to families who will return to school using only remote learning. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Hurlbert.

Prescott United Methodist Church in Arizona is converting its longtime back-to-school distribution of backpacks, socks, and shoes to provide youngsters with laptops instead.

Denise Woolsey, lay leader of the congregation’s Shoes from the Shepherd ministry, came up with the idea and is working to obtain 75 to 100 laptops for children identified by the district.

“I’ve seen the huge digital divide that’s occurring between students who have the ability to get computers, and those who don’t,” said Woolsey, a business professor at the local community college.

The Rev. Patti Blackwood, a deacon and the church’s congregational care minister, said the church’s anonymous donor who has long funded the backpack and shoe distribution readily agreed to support this year’s computer ministry.

“The donor said he and his wife don’t care what goes to the children as long as we serve children who have a need, and they know this comes from Christian people,” Blackwood said. The Prescott congregation plans to adorn each laptop with a cross and flame sticker.

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