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Jeremiah Fund benefits Spring Creek School
A grant from First Free Rockford will help Spring Creek School's PTO purchase a gaga ball pit.
Jim Killam
July 6, 2022
Kari White delivers Jeremiah Fund check to Spring Creek Elementary PTO

Kids at Spring Creek Elementary School will learn some Hebrew, thanks to a Jeremiah Fund grant from First Free Rockford.

Wait, what?

OK, it’s just one Hebrew term: gaga, which means “touch-touch.” The $750 grant from First Free will help the school’s Parent Teacher Organization purchase and install a gaga ball pit for the playground. The game, which really did originate in Israel, has been described as “a gentler version of dodgeball.” If you’re unfamiliar, take a look:

Going Gaga at Summerama

Christina Rudolph, the school’s outgoing PTO president, said her own boys were introduced to gaga ball while attending Summerama day camp at First Free. The grant came as a total surprise.

“We weren’t even aware something like this existed,” she said. “Not only my kids, but a lot of kids from Spring Creek have come to your summer programs. So they will appreciate this, and the parents will, too. They’ve sent their kids to camp (at First Free). How nice is it that the church is also now helping our school?”

Christina Rudolph receives the grant check from Kari White.

The Jeremiah Fund provides “no strings attached” grants of $750. A grant can go to any 501c3 nonprofit organization that is either Christian in scope, or morally positive and spiritually neutral. The organization must serve the greater Rockford community and effect positive change on people’s lives. The applicant must be a member of First Free Rockford who volunteers more than 20 hours a year to the organization.

Kari White, First Free’s church management system administrator, volunteers with the Spring Creek School PTO. Kari knew about the fund but wasn’t sure if the school could receive money from a church. But because the PTO is a registered nonprofit organization and not an official part of the school, there was no church-state barrier. She knew about gaga ball from Summerama, and decided to give the application a shot.

“My kids attend Spring Creek and this is something I wanted to not only benefit them, but this is a community school right down the road from church,” she said.

The grant will be announced to the students once school starts again in August. It won’t completely cover the cost for a gaga ball pit, but it will anchor a fundraising effort for the rest. 

“To have this money that we know is already there, set aside and earmarked for it, that will cover a portion of the cost, is amazing,” Christina said.

Spring Creek School

How to apply

More Jeremiah Fund grants are available. To learn more, check out the information page and application.

“The church having something like the Jeremiah Fund available for our community is such a positive thing,” Kari said. “I hope we’ll have more applications.”

Jim Killam
Jim Killam is a journalist, author, teacher and terminal Cubs fan. He and his wife, Lauren, live in Rockford and work internationally with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

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