Merry Christmas!

by Joyce Mills

Giving a friend, neighbor or even a stranger a reminder that the world can be a happy place may make you happy.  Fifteen individuals chose to be a reminder to 26 children who receive backpack meals for the weekend by becoming their secret Santa.  These individuals not only believe in the reminder but will put their energy and patience to the test by shopping for the kids.

Have you heard Stevie Wonder sing this song?

Someday at Christmas we’ll see a land

With no hungry children, no empty hand

One happy morning people will share

Our world where people care.

It is a beautiful song!  Our little world at Beckley First Baptist does care. We are a very giving church.  Week after week, the same people come and pack the backpacks and the same people go week after week to work at Helping Hands reminding those in need that the world can be a happy place.  That is a wonderful thing!  And now, 15 people will give an extra reminder by doing the shopping for kids in need.  Thank you!  Thank you!

The Backpack Ministry always needs prayers for the families, money, and for the month of December cans of Pork and Beans. Just place the cans on the back counter in the church kitchen. Thanks, and you know, our world can be a happy place.

A Story About Jessie

by Joyce Mills

This is a hypothetical story about Jessie – a 5 year old girl who could be living next door.  It could also be a story about any of the 22 children who receive a backpack filled with nutritious food for the weekend.  These 22 children go to Beckley Elementary and are in need of extra food to get through the weekend.  They are in grades Kindergarten to 5TH grade.  They pick their backpack up each Friday.

This could be a day in any of their lives as one of the roughly 16 million children in America dealing with hunger.  We must continue to help children avoid the struggles that come with an empty stomach.

7:30 AM  Jessie wakes up for another day of kindergarten.  She didn’t get much food last night, and this morning she is extra groggy.  It is the end of the month       and Mom hasn’t been able to get groceries yet because she is waiting for her next paycheck.  So Jessie heads to school on an empty stomach.  Despite being hungry, Jessie is excited to start her school day.

10 AM  The teacher is explaining the alphabet. Reading is Jessie’s favorite subject – but she can’t seem to focus.

12 PM   It is hard for Jessie to watch the other kids unpacking their lunches.  Still, she is grateful that the school provides breakfast and lunch every day for her and many other children.  She knows she can count on breakfast and lunch everyday at school.   The weekend is another story!

Isn’t it a great feeling to know that we are helping 22 children have a better weekend?

For the month of November please donate Peanut Butter in plastic jars -16-18 oz. will work fine.  We appreciate your monetary gifts and certainly the food donations each month.  Just leave the Peanut Butter on the back counter in the church kitchen.

Hunger is one of the many faces of poverty

by Joyce Mills

Hunger is one of the many faces of poverty.  It keeps children from learning, increases the reason for children being absent from school, causes anxieties and low self-esteem, and even keeps the child from paying attention in class.

Raleigh County Schools are putting great emphasis on good attendance this year.  Being absent causes students from PreK – High School to get behind.  An elementary teacher has said, “The problems of hunger leads to all kinds of problems.  It has a snowball effect.  These students fall behind and they never really catch up.”

As I was reading a national report on hungry children some interesting things were given such as:

  • 3 out of 4 public school teachers say that students regularly come to school hungry
  • 81% of teachers say it happens at least once a week
  • 53% of teachers say children who have enough food have improved attendance
  • 73% see kids paying better attention in class when there is enough food
  • A quote from a guidance counselor, ”Hunger is causing the demise of an entire generation that has much potential.  These children are fighting for their lives daily.”

First Baptist, along with many other churches in the community, is trying to do its part.  This week there will be 16 backpacks for kids at Beckley Elementary filled with nutritious food for 6 meals and 2 snacks for the weekend.  As has been said, “This is America.” 

It makes no sense for kids to go hungry.”  Schools are trying hard to feed kids healthy foods.  Churches are helping on weekends and still the numbers tell us that 1 out of 5 kids is hungry.

We still need workers to pack the backpacks.  This is a one time out of the month job.  Let us know if have less than an hour’s time that you could give to help.  Thank you for continuing to faithfully give your money.  For the     month of October donations of Vienna Sausage are needed.   You are asked to put food donations on the back counter in the church kitchen.

 

Well, Summer is Over

Well, summer is over and school is back in session again.  This year we are starting out with 15 backpacks with more to be added in the coming weeks.  These children live in poverty and sometimes healthy food is scarce and that’s why this program is so vital.   We have been blessed with many, many donations.  Several weeks ago the Future Farmers of America donated over 1,300 “goodie bags” which contained cereal, fruit cups, a small can of pasta with meat, pudding and a packet of powdered milk.   This will go a long, long way in helping these children.  Your donations of food and money have also been very generous and for that we thank you.

For the month of September we will be collecting cans of Vienna sausages.  These can be left on the back counter in the kitchen.  Please keep this program in your prayers as we continue to reach out to children and their families in need.

What does the end of the school year mean for kids?

by Joyce Mills

For many kids in West Virginia, the end of the school year marks the beginning of lazy days by the pool, staying up late or vacations with family.  For others, it means less  access to nutritious meals.  Luckily, many of those children will have such meals available to them in their own communities this summer.

This makes those of us who work with the backpack program very happy because 19 kids  who were given backpacks each week can have hot meals during this summer. Actually, Beckley Elementary is listed as a ‘feeding station’.

Summer food programs across the country, including West Virginia, offer U.S. Department of Agriculture approved meals to any child who wants or needs one, regardless of economic background.

Both the backpack initiative and summer food programs are essential for some families. Many of West Virginia’s kids live in poverty, and healthful nutritious food is scarce. Many parents may not have healthy nutrition knowledge themselves. Their children may depend on a healthy school provided breakfast and lunch to satisfy their appetites, but these aren’t available on weekends or school breaks.  For a complete list of feeding sites, including days and times the program will operate, visit The Department of Education website.

For July and August continue to bring in your extra large tote bags and cans of pasta with meat.  We continue to appreciate your gifts-both cans of food and money.  Just place the cans of pasta with meat on the back counter in the church kitchen.

All children are precious in God’s sight!

by Joyce Mills

Thank YOU!  Thank YOU!

All children are precious in God’s sight!  His heart is endeared towards them and His ear  hears their every need!  Time and again, the Bible says that God is a defender and protector of the poor, the oppressed, abused, impoverished and the fatherless. And so, we have placed value on children because we know full well that God does.

Some of you have gone the extra mile and contributed money and food each and every month. We appreciate YOU so very much!  We also appreciate the “New Vision Telephone Pioneers Organization” that provided new tennis shoes for every backpack child, 19 in all. Each child was called to a special room at the school to be given his/her shoes.  We were told that many of the children asked if they really got to keep the box and special bag that had held the shoes. Just a reminder, most of us don’t even think once about keeping either.  It is a wonderful thing to  know that we are helping children to develop better minds, bodies and, hopefully, attitude because we help feed their physical hunger.

For the months of June, July and August, you are asked to continue your monetary gifts, as well as, cans of pasta with meat.  Also, if you have extra strong tote bags, we would be happy to have those.  The tote bags are used when a child forgets to return his/her backpack for the week and something durable is needed to hold the food for the coming week.  Just put items on the back counter in the kitchen.

Again, THANK YOU, for supporting the Backpack Ministry this school year. Consider it a “job well done!”  Students finish school on June 3, and for this school year backpacks finish on May 26.  We will start delivering backpacks again in August.

Beautiful Green Shades are Appearing

by Joyce Mills

As winter seems to really be gone and beautiful green shades are appearing on trees and shrubs and the early buds and flowers are bursting with bright colors, many are still faced with that awful thing called hunger.  It is reported that more than half of those who visit a food pantry have worked a full time job in the past 6 months.  Yet, increased cost of living and industry-wide layoffs have forced people to face the impossible decision between feeding their families and keeping the lights on.

Our backpack food shoppers buy much of the food supplies from the Mountaineer Food Bank located in Gassaway, WV.  Each month the Food Bank delivers ordered items to Beckley.  This is such a great help because this Food Bank actually has child friendly food for backpacks. It also means that the Backpack Ministry is a 501(c)3 organization that relies on donations from you and the Food Bank.

Often times, pantries target the senior and adult community.  Mountaineer Food Bank has several agencies that sponsor weekend meals for younger students.  They have also launched two high school pantries in the area being served. According to a report released by Feeding America, West Virginia has 89,900 children who suffer from food insecurity. It is still estimated that 1 out of every 5 children does not have enough to eat. When will this number ever change?

Without your generous donations of needed food and the monetary donations, First Baptist could not provide weekend food for 19 children.  Thank you for helping to fight hunger in Beckley and specifically, Beckley Elementary School.

For the month of May, cans of Beanie Weenies are needed.  Just place your donations on the  back counter in the church kitchen.  Thanks!

Food Insecurity is Harmful

by Joyce Mills

Food insecurity is harmful to all people, but it is particularly devastating to children. Proper nutrition is critical to a child’s development.  Not having enough of the right kinds of food can have  serious implications for a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity.  The future of America lies in our children.  When hunger threatens the future of a child, it threatens the future of our community and our nation as well.

Hunger is real for 1 in 4 children in our community

by Joyce Mills

Sadly, hunger is real for 1 in 4 children in our community. 1 = too many!

The objective of Beckley First Baptist Church’s Backpack Program is to fight childhood hunger in our community by filling the weekend food gap for children in need.  Our program reduces the negative impacts of hunger so children are ready to learn in school and succeed in life.

 

So picture this…………

On any Friday, 19 kids go to the office at Beckley Elementary in what has become a weekly ritual: each picking up a backpack filled with nutritious food so they won’t go hungry over the weekend.

The children don’t like to talk about being hungry. So teachers rely on other clues. One thing that is noticed is that children who eat their lunch real quickly are the hungry ones. They often want second helpings. There are some children who seem sad that the weekend is coming. For students who rely on the school’s breakfast and lunch meals know that the weekends and holidays mean going without enough food. Knowing that on Friday afternoon they will be called to the office to pick up their backpack helps these children to know that the weekend will be better because someone cared enough to provide 6 meals and 2 snacks for them in a backpack. All food is child-friendly, packaged with set menus that include milk, proteins, fruit, vegetable, cereals and 100% fruit juices.

Thanks for your monetary gifts and the monthly food donation.  For the month of March please bring all the individual cups of applesauce that you can carry.  Place them on the back counter in the church kitchen. YOU are appreciated!  Our Back-pack Program is 100% volunteer run.  Your tax deductible donation can make an immediate and lasting impact on hungry kids.

Force for Good

by Joyce Mills

Giving a friend, neighbor or even a stranger a reminder that the universe can be a happy place may make you happy!  Eighteen individuals chose to be a blessing to 21 children who receive backpacks each Friday at Beckley Elementary.

These 18 people were asked to be shoppers for the kids who were not facing a happy Christmas. Yes, we give them food each week but what about something for Christmas?  As calls were made and individuals kept saying “YES” in spite of busy schedules, to shopping for the backpack kids, I knew that a sense of ‘life is good’ was going to prevail both with shoppers and the kids who received.

It was a wonderful sight to walk into the Welcome Center and see the beautiful Christmas tree surrounded with the many gifts purchased by the 18 shoppers, who chose to be a force for good. The gifts were wrapped and placed carefully around the tree ready to be delivered to the school the next day. I never saw any of the gifts delivered to the Welcome Center. I did answer a few questions from phone calls. I did know the shoppers were out there working hard but it was almost like angels had delivered and transformed the Welcome Center into a very special place.  As a reader you know that angels give us comfort, confidence, and guidance according to God’s direction. Even though I never saw any gifts brought in, I knew in my heart what my eyes had not seen, there was love and joy filling that Welcome Center and Christmas would be real for 21 kids all because we are a church filled with caring, loving people and 18 special people who chose to be a FORCE FOR GOOD.

Special thanks to FBC for understanding the needs of hungry children, to those who give money on a monthly basis to purchase the food, to those who give time week after week to make the program work, and to the 18 special shoppers who became a force for good at Christmas time. Thanks!  And more Thanks!   HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We are asking for canned pasta with meat for the month of February.  Just place donations on the back counter in the kitchen.