Campbellsville Independent Schools community partner First United Methodist Church received the Change Award at the Campbellsville Board of Education meeting on Monday, Jan. 8.
Campbellsville Independent Schools Superintendent Kirby Smith honors three Change Award winners each month, including a certified and classified employee and a community member.
The church, which has supported CIS students for more than 30 years, received the community Change Award.
The awards are given based upon six elements, which spell the word Eagles. They include Encouraging and exhibiting Attitudes of Greatness, while Leading with high Expectations to Success.
Before the Christmas break, Smith said, he visited the church for a special Christmas party.
The church was hosting its Star Child party, which provides Christmas gifts and special snacks for 30 deserving students at Campbellsville Elementary School.
“I walked in, and within five or 10 minutes, I said, ‘Wow,’ he said. “And I thought, this is what changing lives is all about.”
Smith said he soon realized that the church has hosted such a party for CES students for about 30 years.
Each of the children chosen to attend the party receives two large boxes of gifts, bought specially for them by church members.
Smith and CES Principal Elisha Rhodes attended a service at the church in December to thank those who help with the program.
“We enjoy the partnership, and thank you for the difference you all are making in the lives of our children,” Smith said.
Linda Dernier and Lana Helm, who coordinate the Star Child program at the church, accepted the award.
Dernier said 30 children are honored every year, and have been for at least 30 years.
“So that’s 900 children right there,” she said. “The people at First United Methodist are just so caring and generous and we appreciate it every year that they step up to do this.
“And it really means something to me because I was one of those children when I was a child,” she said. “So it means a lot to me.
“And we love doing it and I hope we’ll be able to do it until it isn’t needed.”
Dernier said the people at the church love to help the children, by hosting the party and coming to the school each week to work with students.
“We love to see the children when they open their boxes,” she said. “They’re just so appreciative and it’s just a wonderful experience for us as much as it is for the children.
“Thank you so much. We’re going to display this proudly.”
Campbellsville Independent Schools Superintendent Kirby Smith, at right, honors Linda Dernier, at left, and Lana Helm, who coordinate the Stars Child program at First United Methodist Church, with the community Change Award.