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The art of giving
Grace Academy gets hands-on learning with a food drive for Manna House
kids group
Grace Academy students pose with the food they collected for Manna House to distribute to local families in need. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

Students from Grace Academy are learning at a young age to help others in their community.

The homeschool co-op in Rincon conducted a month-long food drive and donated the items to Manna House Ministries to distribute.

“That is what God wants us to do. He wants us to be kind to people in need,” said Grace Academy second-grade student Ava Boyles.

“It makes me feel happy and joyful,” said second-grader Melanie Edenfield. “It makes me want to give more.”

Edenfield’s mother vouched for that.

“My daughter, every morning, is wanting to get something else out of the cupboard to take to school,” said Tracy Edenfield, who along with her husband Chris founded Grace Academy.

The idea for the food drive started with conversations between Tracy Edenfield and Christy Boyles, Ava’s mom, about ways Grace Academy could give back to the community. They decided Manna House would be the “perfect place” to support, Edenfield said, while also teaching the students about helping others.

Class periods included discussion of Biblical views on giving to people in need. The students took those lessons to heart, as they all brought in food for Manna House.

“It does show that they are getting the spirit of giving, and sometimes that’s such a hard thing for them when they get so much,” Edenfield said. “It’s so hard for them to understand there are people who are not able to just ask for something and receive it, especially children.”

Second-grader Gavin Fox said he felt he made a difference in his community “by helping a kid like me have a healthy meal and making them smile.”

Manna House appreciates donations to its food pantry at any time of year, but they are particular beneficial around the holidays. Manna House typically serves 250-300 families per month, according to director Lisa Bush, but that number grew to 577 in October.

“This month, we’ve already surpassed that,” Bush said.

That doesn’t include the 800 families Manna House helped at its annual Thanksgiving giveaway Nov. 15. Manna House partners with First Baptist Church of Rincon to give out groceries to make a Thanksgiving meal for a family.

The spike in the number of people requesting assistance from Manna House isn’t just for food, Bush said. People also need winter clothes and blankets.

“During this time, we see a major increase,” she said. “But we also see our community come together and give, which is awesome, to help us get through those next few months.”

Grace Academy opened this year as a parent/teacher co-op with nine students. The hope, Edenfield said, is to expand next year into a traditional, private Christian school and serve more students.

For now, Grace Academy’s classes meet at Rincon United Methodist Church. RUMC is not affiliated with the school, but is allowing its facility to be used while the homeschool co-op works toward securing a site of its own.

“At this point, we just basically are working out of two Sunday school classrooms,” Edenfield. “Our biggest need right now is a building so that we can grow. We’re just praying God will supply our need of a building.”

Regardless of where Grace’s classes are held next year, fourth-grader Nathan Rowland hopes to have the food drive for Manna House again. He was asked if he would like to donate food next year.

“Yes,” he answered, “because it is nice to make sure that people in need of food have food to eat.”

For more on Manna House, Grace Academy
Manna House is located at 1210 Patriot Dr. in Rincon, across from the YMCA. To make a donation or for more information, call Manna House at (912) 826-2037.

For more information about Grace Academy, call Tracy Edenfield at (912) 412-2403 or email