Terri Knight believes the most important thing she can teach children is the true meaning of joy: putting Jesus first, others second and yourself last.
"We live in a society where it's all about me," said Knight.
Owners of Woodlee's Christian Academy, she and husband Wade operate a private Christian school located at 3915 Ga. Highway 162 South in Covington.
On Wednesday, Nov. 7, the majority of their 195-student population, accompanied by parents and teachers, will celebrate their annual Other's Day Serve-A-Thon. This fundraising event will take them across Newton and Rockdale counties to help others in practical ways and to extend the love of Jesus. Woodlee's is committed to rekindling the message of serving one another.
In its eighth year, the fundraising concept was originated by Jan Taylor, director of Young American Christian School in Conyers.
"Our students get people to sponsor them to go out and work in the community that day," she said. "Everybody wins. The school is helped out financially and the people we serve are touched by our efforts."
Three years ago, Taylor invited Woodlee's Christian Academy and other Christian schools to participate.
Students at Woodlee's Christian Academy have decorated their classroom doors and mapped out their day of service. While several will help elderly with yard work, others are visiting nursing homes and service organizations. A group of boys plans to help clean up vehicles at Cars for Christ; the girls will visit Elks Aidmore Children's Home; upper grades will take coats to the Conyers Clothes Closet and others will help stock the food pantry at the Rainbow House and Solid Rock Church.
Fourth grader Nina Rhoton is excited about returning to serve lunch at the fire stations, where she washed windows at last year's fundraising event.
"When you do something for someone else, it makes you feel good," she said.
Gift baskets will be left for the firefighters returning on later shifts to thank them for their service to the community. Sixth grader, Murad Dillard enjoyed singing and helping feed the needy last year.
The preschoolers have brought items in and are making gift bags. Their pictures were taken with angel wings and the outside of the gift bag will say "a little angel is praying for you."
The class is busy drawing pictures and making cards of encouragement that will be sent to local cancer patients as well as to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
Woodlee's Christian Academy raises approximately $20,000 on Other's Day. The children are encouraged to send letters to 20 people asking them to sponsor their community service.
"We teach the children to put action with their faith," Knight said. "You just ask and send out the letter and believe God for the return."
Over the last two weeks, letters of support have steadily come in averaging $700 a day in donations.
"Last Wednesday was a big day," Knight said. "If the children sent out their letters, they got a free T-shirt designed by Woodlee's Christian Academy art teacher, Anastasiya Gazhenko. The logo was inspired by Colossians 3:23, "And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."
Executive Director, Terri Knight has spent a lifetime teaching and loving children.
"God called me to this generation of children," Knight said. "This school is very much a kingdom work. Some of my middle school children tell me that Woodlee's is different. When I asked why, they answered, "Here it really is all about God."
Knight's parents Daisy and John Woodlee opened Woodlee's Daycare on Old Salem Road in Conyers in 1970 and began adding grades in the early '90's.
"My husband Wade and I bought the business in 1996," Knight said. "We quickly outgrew the building and rented classroom space in local churches.
In 2000, Terri and Wade formed a non profit organization called PEACE, Inc. People Educating All Children Equally, d/b/a/ Woodlee's Christian Academy.
"My parents purchased 60 acres and donated the property where our first building is located," Knight said. "Although my parents are retired, they continue to be very supportive of the school."
Wade Knight oversees both facilities and maintains the grounds, building and vehicles. Daughter Ashley Daniel operates the original Woodlee's Christian Academy and Child Care Center Inc. located in Conyers.
Anyone interested in investing in the student body at Woodlee's Christian Academy and in sponsoring this event may send their tax deductible gift to Woodlee's Christian Academy, 3915 Highway 162 S., Covington, GA 30016. The funds raised will be used to build a gym to include a commercial kitchen and cafeteria for the school. For more information, call Woodlee's Christian Academy at (770) 788-2770.