Wrinkles and Smiles

by Joyce Mills

Mark Twain once said, “Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”  Did you know it takes twenty-six muscles to smile and sixty-two to frown? So what are you waiting for?  Always be smiling!  Especially smile when you hear stories like the following:

In life, real joy is not in the possession of things, it is found in a thankful heart.  My heart was full of joy the other day when I heard Helen Greene telling this story.  As most of you know, Helen has wonderful passion for the Backpack Ministry.  She and Mary spend hours shopping for the best buy in food for the backpack kids and keeping the shelves full of kid friendly food.  As Helen was helping with the Chonda Pierce Concert she was walking through Fellowship Hall and noticed some very fine tote bags on a vendor’s table.  Katie and Lindsay were in charge of the Spirit FM table and Helen asked if she could have some tote bags for the backpack kids who sometimes forget their backpack.  Katie and Lindsay became very interested in hearing about the backpack program and Helen took them to the pantry where all the supplies and food are kept.  They were very impressed with what they saw and heard.  Of course, they gave Helen all the totes they had left, as well as pencils, bracelets, stickers and suckers to go in the backpacks.

A few days after the concert a box arrived for Helen at the church.  Katie and Lindsay had sent 24 more nice totes and goodies for the kids.  There was also a very special note to Helen.

Hi Helen, We are touched by your heart and wanted to help too.  Hope this will help!

Keep Shining for Jesus!  Katie and Lindsay

Helen is such a fine example of having a happy heart!  She not only has compassion for our Backpack program, she shares it with whoever will listen.  Because she shares how her heat is feeling, an organization to which she belongs “New Vision Pioneers” gave the Backpack Ministry $300 to buy tennis shoes for the backpack kids.  What a great joy we have in our hearts!

Boxes of macaroni and cheese is the food donation for April.  Just put it on the back counter in the kitchen.   Thanks and HAPPY EASTER!

Time Flies

by Joyce Mills

Some of you have been reading about the Backpack Ministry for four years.  It was started in February 2013.  That does not seem possible!  We have about the same workers that started the program.  The workers have had tremendous passion and loyalty to the program since the very beginning.  The only thing that has changed much is the number of children who receive food for the weekend.  We are now preparing 24 backpacks that go home with the children every Friday.  This program should not be increasing in number – the number should be going down if there is improvement. Why should there even be hungry children in our own backyards?

Many children and families face a food shortage at home. In Beckley, many families struggle with hunger, especially during evenings and weekends when children don’t have access to healthy school meals.  In addition: Working poor parents who must pay for childcare often don’t have enough money to feed their families.  Or, suddenly unemployed adults or those who’ve had their hours reduced often don’t have adequate funds to meet both food and basic living needs.

There is a movement in our country that seems to be saying to each of us, “DO ONE THING FOR A BETTER WORLD”.  Certainly, at First Baptist there are opportunities to do that one thing.  It is just a matter of choice!  There are things you can do alone or there are things you can do in a group –like helping  with the backpacks or working at Helping Hands Resource Center.

The following are some interesting quotes about hungry children.  It was surprising to read the quote and then to see who had said it.

“There are genuinely sufficient resources in the world to ensure that no one, nowhere, at no time, should go hungry.”   Ed Asner

“Hungry people cannot be good at learning or producing anything, except perhaps violence.”    Pearl Bailey

“I can’t think of any issue that is more important than working to see that no schoolchild in this world goes hungry.”   Drew Barrymore.

“Feeding a child at school is such a simple thing – but it works miracles.”    Drew Barrymore

“When we work to end childhood hunger, we are giving our love to kids who need it so much they will never ask for it.”    Beau Bridges

“Hunger makes a thief of any man.”   Pearl Buck

“There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.”  Sir Winston Churchill

The donation needed this month is any kind of canned beans –baked beans, pork & beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, etc. Just fill the back counter in the church kitchen.

Thanks for all you do to help hungry children!   YOUR help is greatly appreciated!

Don’t let the important things go unsaid

by Joyce Mills

Someone has said, “Don’t let the important things go unsaid.  Do the things that brighten your life and help you on your way.  Live to the fullest; make each day count.”

Those of you who volunteer understand these words so very well.  You spend your time doing those things that make you happy.  There are  so many places where volunteers do things that really count!  And, yet, it seems we never have enough volunteers for the things that need to be done.

I always feel a need to thank those of you who help with the backpacks each week, giving your time and energy to help hungry kids.  It is so great to have some help in saying “thanks” this month.  To those of you who did special shopping for students at Christmas, and those of you who give special time each week here are some very special thanks………

From a parent who sent a very special “Thank YOU” card:



Thank you!

From the principal of Beckley Elementary:

First Baptist Church,

Thank you so much for your dedication to our school and students. The food backpacks are items that these students look forward to all week.

We also appreciate you providing Christmas gifts to them as well. You are truly a blessing to our school and these families.

Meghan Houck, Principal

Beckley Elementary School

So you Volunteers, look in the mirror and smile….and see an amazing person looking back at you.  You really are someone special, and your presence is a present to the world around you.

The food donation needed this month is a can of pasta with meat.  Just put It on the back counter in the church kitchen.  Thanks

Happy New Year! It’s 2017!

by Joyce Mills

A big THANK YOU to the 15 shoppers who took the time and energy to Christmas shop for 27 children.  I can only imagine how happy this made mostly boys and a few girls, who receive backpacks filled with food every Friday.

Having just read some facts on hunger in West Virginia, I was pleased to read that the WV Office of Child Nutrition is leading the nation in serving nutritionally balanced meals to its students at school. However, these same children live in a household that does not have access to enough food. This is due to low wages or no job. More than 1 in 4 WV children live in a household that does not have enough food.  60% of WV school children qualify for free or reduced priced school meals.  That’s more than 173,000 children whose family household income is below or nearly below the federal poverty level.  Raleigh County is in that number, as well as, students at Beckley Elementary. Sadly, the meals provided at school may be the only food many children have access to each day.

Our children deserve to have the most basic needs met in order to live vibrant, productive lives. FBC is doing its part to stop hunger in children. Your gifts of money and food donations certainly are making a difference with some children.  AND, yes, it is a MISSION FIELD right in our back door. Sometimes Home Missions are neglected and we send our money far away to other people in need.  That is all well and good but we cannot overlook our own community needs.

THANKS! THANKS! THANKS! – for not only providing food for the weekends but also for making certain that 27 kids had a good Christmas. The donation needed in January is cans of Pasta with MEAT. Just place on the back counter in the Church kitchen.

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.