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.

Thanks for your help at Christmas

First of all, thank you so very much to all of you who shopped for Christmas presents for our backpack children.   They were very excited to receive their presents and I’m sure it meant the world to them.  For the month of January, we will be collecting cans of Vienna sausages.  They can be left on the back counter in the kitchen.  Please keep these children in your prayers.

You’re not you when you’re hungry.

by Joyce Mills

If the little voice in the stomach of 22 kids who get backpacks every Friday could be heard talking, this might be what we would hear.  Those of you reading this probably have no clue what it is really like to be hungry.  I have no clue what it’s like to be really hungry!  Neither can I imagine a young child being really hungry!  Living in this country, no child should have this hungry feeling for food.  However, due to the various situations that happen in families, the research tells us that 1 out of 5 children is hungry.  How very sad!

Our church family has been asked by school staff if we could help with Christmas for these same kids. It is one thing to be hungry for real food – it is another thing to know that Christmas is coming and that Santa is probably not going to visit.  How can these same 22 children have much excitement or joy in thinking about Christmas?

Thanks to those who attended the November Business Meeting of the Church and voted to help these students in another way besides food. Again, because of a caring church and loving members, the Backpack Kids will certainly have a Merry Christmas.  Thank YOU!  AND, a Very Merry Christmas to YOU!

The one thing you could donate in December would be the individual pudding cups. Any flavor will work! Just put it on the back counter in the kitchen and know that every cup is appreciated.

15 Million Hungry Children

by Joyce Mills

In the U.S. today, 15 million children face hunger – that’s 1 in 5.  Chances are, someone your child or grandchild goes to school with struggles to get enough to eat.

Just as hunger knows no age, neither does fighting it.  We all have a role to play in solving hunger, whether old or young.  Children can make a positive difference in the lives of other kids in need.  It’s important to talk with children about hunger and inspire them to take action against it.  Talk to the kids in your life about hunger. Encourage them to help, donate, and volunteer to pack backpacks.  Perhaps you could offer to help them pack the backpacks.

It is a sight to see the 22 backpacks loaded on the carts each Wednesday, ready to be taken to the school by a special, specified person, who has volunteered his/her time.

Only when we all work together – young and old – can we focus on ending hunger, and make sure every child has the food they need to grow healthy and strong.

For the month of November we need applesauce.  Just place it on the back counter in the kitchen.  We appreciate you for bringing it for the backpack kids.