Backpack Ministry – February Update

by Joyce Mills

Around Raleigh County you’ll find many teachers who can tell you about a student who came to school on Monday not reluctant to start the school week, but eager to get  back to school after going through Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday without a square meal – or knowledge of a source for their next meal.

Those children are the reason we started the Backpack Program.  Other churches around the county picked up on the idea and now many children are having a much better weekend.

The Backpack Program is one that ensures that children in need have balanced, nutritious food they need to learn and grow.  The concept is simple, children at risk of weekend hunger receive a backpack full of food that is child friendly, nutritious, nonperishable, and easy to prepare/eat.  Each backpack offers enough food that children can easily assemble into six healthy meals with two snacks over the weekend when schools are unable to provide breakfasts and lunches.

I challenge you to think about a hungry child and how that must feel.   Then, I challenge you to skip just one fast food meal and give $5.00 to help feed that hungry child.  Become involved and help change the future for these children by helping them to thrive and know there’s a better way to live.

Thank you for the 150+ individual containers of applesauce you brought in January.  Can we beat that number in February by bringing 16-18oz. jars of Peanut Butter?  Plastic jars, of course!   Please place on the back counter in the kitchen and on your way out CELEBRATE a little because it has been a great year with the Backpack Ministry.

Happy New Year from the Backpack Ministry

by Joyce Mills

It is a New Year and time to set some new goals in our own lives as well as the things that we work with or have a desire to make better.  There are some things that I would call to your attention about the Backpack Ministry.

Thing 1.  A big Thank You to the wonderful shoppers who helped make  Christmas special for 16 children at Beckley Elementary. You did a fantastic job!  Home Missions done right in our back door.  What could be better?     Thank You!

Thing 2.  Thank you for the 122 cans of Vienna Sausage that you purchased and placed on the back counter in the Church kitchen.

Thing 3.  These individuals serve the Backpack Ministry week after week.  Thank them when YOU see them.  They are faithful, loyal and feel blessed each week as they do their assigned jobs to keep this Ministry running smoothly. Thank you Helen Greene, Mary Gregory, Maria Veid, Charlotte Hutchens, Pam Bishop, Mike and Patty Atterson, Jeff Oakland, Ken Dilley, Connie Neal, Janice Wood, Nancy Moran, Todd Wright,  Brooke Wright, John Quinn,   Debbie Quinn, Sarah Adkins, Linda Allport, Valerie Sellards, Caroline Sellards, Linda Ramsey, Mark Holiday, Suzanne Brown, Clark Mills,  Tim Greene, Johnny Greene, and  Rev. Doc Adkins. YOU are APPRECIATED!

Thing 4.  We are in need of a few more people to help pack backpacks. Each week 22 students receive food through the Backpack Ministry. There are 5 teams with some having only 3 people packing. If you have some time on Wednesday at 5:00pm, you could help one week out of the month.  We also need more help to take the backpacks to the school anytime Thursday or Friday morning. Taking the backpacks to school is done on a monthly rotation. Call me (Joyce) at 304.252.0534, if you can help.

Thing 5.  For the month of January, please bring individual serving packs of APPLESAUCE and put it in the Church kitchen on the back counter. Thanks!

 

HO! HO! HO! Merry Christmas to Our Friends at First Baptist Church!

by Joyce Mills

If 22 individuals were not shy and felt confident enough, I know this would be the greeting that you would receive from those who receive the backpacks each week.

When Jesus first came into our world, those who heard of His arrival had the privilege of directing others to Him.  And even though He’s not arriving again as a Holy Baby, people today still need help in getting to Him.  AND, that’s where we get to play a part – we have the same privilege today, the gift of directing others to Jesus.  Through our giving of money for this Ministry, we make it possible for others to actually fill the backpacks with good nutritious food for those children who are at risk of being hungry.  This is the church’s way of helping those who are less fortunate to understand that this is how it all began at Christmas so long ago when Jesus was born and that the giving will never end because He is our Savior who will never abandon us.  We are directing the less fortunate by being an example and a road map in giving them a backpack each week to help fill a need that each one has at this time.

It’s a beautiful gift God has given us!  Let’s not miss an opportunity to be wise and generous with our directions.  The verse in Matthew 25 that says  “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…………”  lets us know that there is no excuse to neglect those who have deep needs..Thank you for continuing to give your money or your time to shop and bring the food for the children in need.  Also, for all of you who are involved with the Backpack Ministry, just remember that Jesus demands our personal involvement in caring for other’s needs.  Thank you for giving so generously of your time.

The special food donation needed this month is cans of Vienna Sausage. Just place the cans on  the back counter in the kitchen.  Thank YOU!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

“Nourishing the Body That Nourishes the Mind”

by Joyce Mills

The backpack food program discreetly provides nutritious, child-friendly, easy to prepare food to 17 chronically hungry children in everyday backpacks to take home over the weekends and out of school time.

What a wonderful program for children which

  • Provides nutrition
  • Eases their anxieties
  • Reduces absenteeism
  • Improves attention span
  • Raises academic performance
  • Increases self esteem

There are several ways that you can help us.  We can always use donated food. For the month of October you are asked to bring cans of soup, especially Chicken Noodle and Tomato.  You can also donate money to help buy food.

You can volunteer to fill backpacks on Wednesday at 5:00pm.  You could volunteer to pick up our food orders from the Mountaineer Foodbank at the drop-off point.   You could pick up the backpacks at Beckley Elementary and bring them back to the church on Wednesday morning for a month.

We have 27 people who do specific jobs for the backpack ministry.  There are many of you who give money very faithfully each month.  Of course, there are many of you who also purchase food each month.  We always need Peanut Butter because each child gets two jars each month to go with the fresh loaf of bread provided each week.

The foods must be kid-friendly, shelf stable, easy-to-prepare, and nutritionally sound, so it is important for us to choose the foods wisely that will make up the backpacks each week.  Thanks to you who have joined the fight to feed hungry kids and we invite others to join us .

Real Children!

by Joyce Mills

Real children!  Children attending Beckley Elementary School!  They live very near to us and they are hungry.  How can that be?  Most of these children have parents who work, maybe even two jobs, but they don’t make enough to pay their bills and buy enough food for their families.

Hunger is one of the many faces of poverty.  Hunger weakens children.  Hunger also keeps a child from learning.  Hunger increases the reason for children being absent from school.  There are many things that can be caused by hunger but it is good to know that we might be making a difference for some children.  AND, we do know that attendance is better on Friday when the food backpacks are picked up by the children for the weekend. The backpacks packed by FBC are filled with very nutritious food.

Each item of food has to be child friendly.  There can be no glass in the backpack.  Only food that needs no refrigeration can be put in the backpack. Here is a sample for one child for one weekend:

Breakfast                                                   Lunch                                             Dinner                                             Snacks

2 Oatmeal packets                              1 jar Peanut Butter                     1 Pasta/with Meat                         1 Cereal Bar

2 Hot Chocolate packets                  1 Ramen Noodle packet          1 can Green Beans                          2 Pudding Cups

1 loaf Bread                                            1 Cheese/Crackers                    1 Chili with Beans                           2 Fruit Cups

The cost for one child for each weekend is between $6.00 – $7.00.  Each time you provide any amount of money you are helping to make a difference for a child.  We appreciate any amount of money that you give. THANKS to you who have kept your contributions coming all summer AND also, for the food that you have kept bringing.

It is great to welcome some parents and their children who will be learning more about hungry children as they help pack the backpacks. This mission field is right here in Beckley.

In Matthew 25:35-40 Jesus says “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…….” Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry?”  The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  The real evidence of our belief is the way we act. What we do for others really demonstrates what we think of Jesus’ words to us-feed the hungry!

For the month of September you are asked to bring Beanie Weenies. (Any size)  Just put the cans on the back counter in the kitchen. Thanks for your help!

Summertime Backpack Thoughts

by Joyce Mills

As I write this, classrooms packed, desks emptied, another school year complete.  It’s officially summertime, and for kids, that means a few precious weeks of sweet, sticky freedom.

When kids from low-income families leave school for the summer the outlook isn’t always as sunny.  While their more affluent peers may be visiting libraries, having picnics, going on vacations, visiting grandparents, attending summer camps and  reading favorite stories every night,  kids in need often spend their summer weeks without even enough food, much less enjoying all the enrichment activities mentioned.

Over the years, things add up – by the end of 5th grade, some kids from low-income  families are often nearly three grades behind their peers in reading levels, have low self-esteem, have lost their desire to learn, and have poor attendance at school.  Add being hungry to the list and it makes us wonder what chance some children even have.

As you read this, it is time to begin thinking about who will be working in the Backpack Ministry this school year?  It takes about 24 people to keep the program moving smoothly for a month.  It also takes about $6.00 to fill one backpack for a week or around $30.00 for a month.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that giving a child a backpack full of food each week just might be one of the keys to a brighter future.  AND, it takes us all working together to do this!   COME!  Be a part of this very special mission project!

Did I mention that those packing the backpacks each Wednesday have such fun working together as a team?  You get to know other church members, as well as doing something very worthy with your time.  YOU are needed!

Don’t forget – we’re stocking up on cans of pasta with meat or 18 oz. plastic jars of Peanut Butter this summer. Just put your contribution on the back counter in the kitchen.    If you have questions or wonders, please call Joyce at 304.252.0534.

What happens to the kids in the summer?

by Joyce Mills

Backpacks will be delivered only the first week of June.  School is over for the children June 5. The question has been asked many times, “What happens to the kids in the summer?”

Some kids have already moved in recent days, some will stay with grandparents, some will be involved with the school’s summer programs which also provides food.  AND, some will be hungry!

The children will not be hungry because we haven’t thought about this – they will be hungry because we haven’t come up with the details as to how to make it work!  We need some visionary planning to make it work.

During the summer if you should be food shopping and see 18 oz. jars of Peanut Butter or cans of pasta with meat, you can be absolutely certain that we will be able to use either one in September.  Go ahead and purchase them and them bring to church.

To the loyal, dedicated workers in the Backpack Ministry, you deserve our thanks and appreciation for a job well done. So a big, big thank you to the Treasurer, Food Shoppers, Weekly Menu Makers, to those who serve on teams that Pack the Backpacks each week, those who Take the Backpacks to School, and those who Pick Up the Backpacks and bring back to the church.  You have been like a machine that just keeps working and working. THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!

Certainly, to YOU who have contributed needed food items and money–you have our thanks and appreciation !  It takes us all working together to make the Backpack Ministry work.