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    Can a small town take care of its own? The directors of Little Miracles Preschool in Ramona are counting on their community to help with a special need.

    Little Miracles and New Life Christian Academy — grades K-12 — need to purchase new playground equipment. What was installed 14 years ago, no longer meets state safety regulations. The list of needs continues but the bottom line is that the church and school are trusting God for a big miracle.

    From Oct. 4 to Oct. 11, Little Miracles and New Life Christian Academy are appealing to the 50,000 residents of Ramona. They are asking “the community with a heart” to make a substantial difference in their ministry and vision. If each person donates just $1, the needs will be met.

    There will be buckets placed throughout the community in restaurants and businesses for their “Drive-by-Dollar” campaign. People will be given the opportunity to give $1 — more if they are able — to raise the needed funds. Then on Oct. 11, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., representatives from the church and school will be throughout Ramona to help collect the money.

    Two Ramona businesses, Cold Stone Ice Cream and Rubio’s, will also be giving back a percentage of purchases on certain nights to assist in the campaign.

    Gretchen Anderson, director of the school of 150 students, is trusting God and the community to make this dream a reality. Her hope is to raise enough not only to install the playground equipment by the winter deadline, but to expand the school’s scholarship program.

    “I’ve seen God do amazing transformations in children’s lives throughout the 14 years and am certain that this financial miracle will occur,” she said. “This is a close-knit community and people care.”

    If you walk through the halls of Little Miracles you will see a mural of an angel holding many stars. If you look closely, you might notice something very unique about it. Between her feet she holds stars with all the current pre-school students’ names on them. She is also throwing up stars with names of students in the Academy that graduated from Little Miracles, ranging from kindergarten to 11th grade. Gretchen Anderson painted the mural this summer to remind her of the heartbeat and vision she had when she and her husband first arrived in Ramona.

    Fourteen years ago, a small church, New Life Assembly, embraced a dream. Jim and Dawn Knutsen, pastors at the time, invited Tom and Gretchen Anderson to join their staff. Tom was to serve as youth pastor and Gretchen was to start a pre-school. Little Miracles began with 7 children and a huge dream. They turned dirt into a lawn and a sandbox. They painted bright colors over dull brown walls. The premise and the philosophy was simple and remains the same today: Love a child with all you have, pour into them, and they will grow and flourish accordingly.

    Children at Little Miracles were loved, nurtured, educated, and guided in a unique and special way. The premise of building a healthy self-esteem and establishing confidence in each little life quickly became a successful program. Within years the pre-school was not only full but ready to expand. New Life Assembly took another leap of faith and birthed New Life Christian Academy. Pre-school children through 12th grade are now affected every day.

    “There is a strong need in Ramona for a Christian junior and senior high school,” said Tom Anderson, now senior pastor of the church. “It is the desire of the administration that no family be turned away due to financial hardships. However, there are many families that cannot pay full tuition and the scholarship program desperately needs to be expanded.”

    If you are unable to drive by Ramona the week of Oct. 4-11 but would like to send a donation, the mailing address is New Life, P.O. Box 788, Ramona, CA 92065.

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