LIMA — Now halfway through August, the time is coming for elementary and high school pupils to begin putting summer vacation behind them and prepare for a new school year. To that end, St. Mark United Methodist Church in Lima held a Blessing of the Back Packs on Sunday, helping local youngsters be prepared both physically and spiritually for going back to class.
“Independence [Elementary School] is right across the street from us,” according to the Rev. Barbara Dafler, pastor at St. Mark. “We have a really good relationship with the principal and staff at that school. We know that a lot of the children who go there are not able to afford the supplies that are needed. So what we do is collect school supplies throughout the whole year and take them to the office.”
Along with providing supplies for those in need, Dafler also took the time to pray over both students and staff, noting that students can face a hard time at school.
“I want the children to know that the people at the church care about them, love them and would do anything for them,” Dafler said.
Situated that close to a school, Dafler and other members of the church, along with Lima Police Department Officer Eric Mericle from the Lima Police Community Oriented Policing substation on site, also try to watch for children leaving the school to ensure they are safe from Metcalf Street traffic.
“We care about student safety and all try to work together to do what we can to help the school and the kids,” Dafler said.
The Lima post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is also cognizant of the school year beginning soon and is reminding drivers to be mindful of school buses back out on the roads.
“Although drivers of all vehicles are required to stop for a school bus when it is stopped to load or unload passengers, children should not rely on them to do so,” Lima post commander Lt. David Brown said. “Children exiting the bus should always stop and look both ways before crossing the street and remain alert to any sudden traffic changes.”
The OSHP is reminding motorists that, according to state law, all drivers should stop at least 10 feet back when approaching a school bus from either direction when the bus lights are flashing and stop sign is extended. Traffic can only resume when the school bus starts moving again.
From 2013 to 2015, 4,043 drivers were convicted of failing to stop for a school bus that was loading or dropping off passengers, according to the highway patrol.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.