“Jeannette Kelley, a former school board member and elementary school principal in Belton ISD, started Project Apple Tree … with the goal of ensuring that all students … have a great first day of school,” Rudolph said.
Belton ISD spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said this initiative, which benefits hundreds of students each year, first began 21 years ago.
Although Kelley died in April 2020, her vision of providing area children with school supplies, a backpack and new pair of shoes at the beginning of the academic year is still being carried out by a team of volunteers.
“For the first time we’ve been able to partner with the Belton ISD purchasing department to provide school supplies for elementary students that will be delivered to their classroom,” Roberts said. “We’ve also partnered with Perry’s Office Plus to provide prepackaged school supplies for middle school and high school students.”
Tasha Roberts, executive director of Helping Hands Ministry, said this year her team’s efforts are being assisted by a variety of community partners.
Project Apple Tree also partnered with First Blessing for its annual shoe giveaway — an event that will be offered beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Belton Christian Youth Center, 505 E. Ave. C in Belton.
Roberts — noting that $50 allows the purchase of school supplies, shoes and a backpack for one student — emphasized how donations can be made online at donorbox.org/project-apple-tree.
However, Helping Hands Ministry needs more than monetary help.
“Belton ISD needs your help to assemble school supply orders for students, including 400 Apple Tree boxes,” Helping Hands Ministry posted to its website. “Volunteers are needed … July 26-29 at the Belton Middle School Gym from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To volunteer, report to the Belton Middle School Gym, 1704 Sparta Road.” On Monday, Belton ISD Superintendent Matt Smith thanked Roberts for spearheading Project Apple Tree.
“Tasha is a vital presence in our community, who is helping us out through Helping Hands Ministry and Project Apple Tree,” Smith said during Belton ISD’s monthly school board meeting. “We’re very grateful for your continued support.”