Members of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Lionville, Pa., prepare to assemble School Kits.

Recipe for success: One day. 40 volunteers. 599 School Kits.

  • Gary Fields
  • Feb 8, 2019
Courtesy of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Lionville, Pa.

On a Sunday afternoon in October 2018, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Lionville, Pa., assembled 599 School Kits for children around the world. The effort, which was six months in the making, involved church members from age 5 to 89! Here’s how they did it, and how you can too! 


Prep time: 6 months

Hands-on time: 2 hours


  • Social Ministry Committee: To organize volunteers.
  • Congregation members, ages 5 and up: To purchase items and assemble kits!
  • Local Boy Scout unit: To pack the kits in shipping boxes.
  • Thrivent Financial: To help provide financial support for purchasing School Kit items.
  • Church’s quilting group: To provide fabric for making backpacks and sewing backpacks.
  • Fellowship hall and tables for assembly
  • School kit items (backpacks, notebooks, rulers, pencil sharpeners, scissors, pens, crayons, erasers, shipping boxes)

Step 1: Create a plan

After seeing a story about another congregation’s annual Baby Care Kit assembly — Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, Ill., assembled 955 kits over three days! — St. Paul’s was inspired to take on a similar challenge.

The Social Ministry Committee, led by Jennifer Pindle, were the experts at getting volunteers for various events, as well as working in the local community. They needed workers, supplies and financing.

Step 2: Gather School Kits items

Over the course of six months the congregation prepared. Jennifer worked to get Thrivent Action Team grants; the quilters took unused fabric from their ministry and made backpacks; one member had a garage sale and donated the proceeds to the cause. Many throughout the congregation bought supplies to contribute and more supplies were bought by the team over the summer, when school equipment was on sale.

Step 3: Assemble

By October the church was ready. Sunday school classes unpackaged the many school items and the congregation organized them into work stations. Tables were stacked with notebooks and the various school tools. The 40 volunteers were a multi-generational labor force, Jennifer says. “Seniors were in chairs and some of the younger kids were with them.” Groups worked their stations assembly-line fashion, adding items to the backpacks and passing them to the next area. In about two hours they had produced 599 kits. The Boy Scouts went to work packing the bookbags into larger boxes for shipping.

Completed bags adorn tables, awaiting packing for shipping

The final count

The final tally shipped to Lutheran World Relief: 599 School Kits; 50 Personal Care Kits and 33 Quilts.

We at Lutheran World Relief thank you. In a world where children may not go to school because supplies are too expensive, your generosity and service have created a world of possibilities!

St. Paul's shipment arrives at Lutheran World Relief warehouse. Tally: 599 school kits, 50 baby care kits, 33 quilts.

Gary Fields, Feb 8, 2019 email