Seventeen years later, Greer is now the principal at WMC. Over those 17 years, WMC students have raised more than $100,000 to provide food, clothing and gifts to families in need. This year, students raised $13,300 during the two-week fundraising event.
“Every year I get an opportunity to see God’s hand at work in the lives of students and staff at Western Michigan Christian high school and middle school,” Greer said. “One of the greatest expressions of God’s presence at our school is Project Grace. Each year we have seen God’s faithfulness in that He has enabled us to reach families in His name.”
This year’s focus was on the attitude of giving. Students received a devotional each day that directed them to give from a biblical perspective. That included giving with an attitude of grace and a heart full of love for others reflecting Christ’s love.
Scott Liggett, assistant to the principal and a social studies teacher at WMC, coordinated the student efforts. He said he was pleased with the way the project came together.
“I am always amazed at the way our community of students, staff and families come together to reflect God’s love for us and give to others,” Liggett said. “That is what Christmas is about.”
WMC worked with local churches and organizations to get in touch with families that are in need of help. This year, 20 families benefited from Project Grace.
Individual classes competed in a daily competition with daily winners earning prizes such as an ice cream sundae bar, lunch and doughnuts. Students earned money by working for friends and family as well as doing special projects like selling doughnuts.
This year’s winning class, Robin Tyink’s AP language, raised more than $4,000. Anna Sytsema, a junior in the class, made it a priority to win the overall competition in order to deliver to families.
“Our class wanted the chance to give the food, clothing and gifts to the families personally,” she said. “Some of us collected pop cans and others have been saving up for this.”
Students shopped for items, brought them back to school and wrapped the gifts.
Summer Lile, who graduated from WMC in 2012 and is now a science teacher there, said Project Grace is meaningful to her in a new and different way.
“As a student, I was never able to shop for gifts or wrap them because I was always part of our Christmas Collage at the Frauenthal,” she said. “As a teacher, I have been able to work with students to raise money and then take the lists that families give us and shop with my students for the items the families want. We then go back to school and wrap the gifts together. It is now one of my favorite days of the school year.”
Items were delivered Wednesday morning by the winning classes.
“Bringing presents to families that wouldn’t have gotten them otherwise is the best possible way we could spread Christ’s love this Christmas,” Sytsema said. “It is very important to understand that we were not these people’s Christmas savior. That was not the point. We were just trying to represent Christ who saved us. Seeing the families and little children (and adorable dogs) who we were able to lift up in prayer was definitely the reason we did this.”
Project Grace is always a highlight for Greer.
“It has been a blessing to see our students work to benefit others and to see God work through our students and have them see firsthand the power of giving to others,” he said. “This project aligns with our mission to educate with excellence, integrate faith with knowledge, equip students to work and serve Christ in their communities.”