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.

It’s NOT okay to have hungry kids!

by Joyce Mills

It’s NOT okay to have hungry kids!  As the Backpack Ministry was being developed, thought about, prayed about, talked about, I just couldn’t think of anything much worse than a child being hungry.  It’s still unacceptable. It shames us.  There’s plenty of money in Raleigh County, and plenty of poverty at the same time, and precious little “trickle down” from one to the other.

Poverty and hunger inflict enormous stresses on families.  When kids go hungry, the family, the neighborhood, the whole community suffers.  And just to be clear about one major point that some cynics might raise, the parent(s) almost always go hungry before their kids do.  They sacrifice to feed their kids.

When food-deprived kids show up at school Monday mornings, it shows .  They’re tired, lethargic, cranky. Their stomachs rumble.  Fortunately, they get a week’s worth of good food at school…..and then comes the weekend.

So for the costs of two dinners for two at a fine restaurant, you can feed a kid for months.  Or you can adopt a child and make sure he/she has weekend food. That would cost you around $30.00 a month or about $300 for a school year. As many of you know, we count our blessings for any amount that is given to this Ministry. ANY DONATION IS APPRECIATED……MONEY OR SPECIFIED FOOD!

For the month of OCTOBER, we would like you to donate individual Fruit Cups. Just place on the back counter in the kitchen and as you leave  think about the fact that you are doing your part to help fix this problem.


Yes! Backpack Ministry

by Joyce Mills

YES!   It is a great feeling to know that  children will be taking backpacks home on Friday.  The backpacks are filled with very nutritious food that has been purchased especially for them.

As you  read this, maybe you brought a jar of Peanut Butter or you might have provided some money for the shoppers to buy it.  At any rate,  children will benefit from someone at First Baptist caring.  Just so you know, these children are in grades PreK – 5th  grade at Beckley Elementary.

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.

Thanks to you who have joined the fight to feed hungry kids!

We provide enough food for the weekend.  There is a special menu for each weekend that provides 6 meals and 2 snacks.  Those backpacks are heavy!  However, no child has been heard saying, “That backpack is too heavy, I can’t carry it.”  That backpack will get them through the weekend!  The food 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.

Our shoppers and menu maker always try to put something special in the backpacks  for  days like Labor Day or any holiday.

We are in great need of a few workers.  Could you possibly help on Wednesday at 5:00 pm?   It doesn’t take long to pack the backpacks –but it has to be done each week.  There are 5 teams of packers, one for each week of the month, so only asking for one week out of the month.  Call me(304.252.0534).

We appreciate any amount of money you give.  We also appreciate you bringing in the named food for the month.  For the month of September we are asking you to bring cans of green beans or peas.   Just put  on the back counter in the kitchen.  Thank you for your help!

Summer Backpack Ministry

by Joyce Mills

The Backpack Program at First Baptist is definitely child focused.  We value each child who receives a backpack full of food each week.  All children are precious in God’s sight. His heart is endeared towards them and His ear inclines to 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 place value on children because God does.

Our Backpack Ministry is focused on the individual child.  Because of your generous  giving we were not only able to fill that last backpack for the summer with some extra food but also with two brand new books for each child.  It may be the only books that some of the students have.  Also, the Pastor took time to write a special note and an invitation to VBS was put in each backpack.   When you give any amount of money or bring cans of food you become an advocate for children in poverty.  It is a wonderful thing to know that we are helping children to develop better minds, bodies and hopefully spirits because we help feed their physical hunger.

Jesus said,”Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the

Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” –Matthew 19:14, NIV

For the months of July and August, you are asked to continue your monetary gifts, as well as, Peanut Butter (16 oz. plastic jars) and any good strong tote bags that you might have.  The tote bags will help when a child forgets his/her backpack for a week and something durable is needed for the food.  Just put items on the back counter in the kitchen.  Please know that we appreciate your help!

Backpack Ministry June Update

by Joyce Mills

The Backpack Ministry has had an awesome school year.  We’re  going to continue until  June 19 this school year.  We have discreetly provided nutritious, child friendly, easy to prepare food to on average  14 chronically hungry children.   The food has been distributed in ordinary backpacks students take home over the weekends and at out of school times.

For students in need, the program:

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

It also teaches good eating habits, provides good community role models, demonstrates community pride and serves as an effective outreach program for the church.  Those who have helped to keep this program moving and effective this school year are;

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 and Debbie Quinn, Sarah Adkins, David and Linda Allport, Valeria Sellards, Caroline Sellards, Linda Ramsey, Mark Holliday, Caroline Holiday, Julianne Holiday, Mary Stover, Crystal Meadows, Cindy Start, Clark and Joyce Mills, and Rev. Doc Adkins.

Of course, our thanks to Beckley Elementary School Principal, Mrs. Meghan Houck, Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Kristie Norris and the classroom teachers  who made certain that everything was taken care of at school.  Our workers always received a warm welcome and help when taking the backpacks to the school.

Many hands,    many hearts,       many souls,      much compassion!    These are the things that made the Backpack Program work so well.  Add to these things the gifts of food and money given by many friends  and church members  and that has made for a very successful school year.

Thanks to each of you for  what you have done for this Ministry! It has been said that generosity  is a sign of a great soul.  Each of you must surely be one because you gave so generously of your time and money.  Thank you so much and remember we will start another year in August.

The need this month is cans of pasta with meat.  Please put on the back counter in the kitchen.


by Joyce Mills

Interesting!  As we were traveling just before Easter a large billboard was right along the highway.  Big, Big letters said the same thing that you have heard over and over that 1 out of 5 children in this great country is hungry.  In smaller letters that same billboard ‘s message was asking for help to feed the hungry.  Isn’t it sad that wherever we go we can read the same message?    The need is great and is the reason you are so very much appreciated when you help with this ministry.

To those who pick up the backpacks and deliver them back to the school, and those who are so faithful in packing them each week – YOU are such a blessing!    These are not difficult jobs –it just takes a little time.  Think how important any one of these three jobs is.  We couldn’t have this Ministry if someone was not willing to do the job.

If you haven’t helped with this Ministry, give thought for a moment as to how you might help.  Of course, there is always a need for any amount of money,  the three jobs mentioned above, you could adopt and sponsor a child for $30. a month, you could meet the truck that delivers food from the food bank each month and bring it to the church,

Only you can determine what you can do.  The need is obvious and we always welcome and feel grateful for any additional help.

It has been announced that school will continue until June 22 in Raleigh County.  The good thing about the extra time is our students will continue to receive the extra food for weekends.  We don’t have to worry about them having no food with this plan.

In closing, perhaps you should focus on what you can gain if you helped with any ministry in our church rather than on what you might lose.  AND, finally…….”.whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things…..And the God of peace will be with you.”      Philippians  4:4-9

For the month of May, we need donations of cans of Chili with Beans .  Just leave the cans on the back counter in the kitchen.  Thanks, we appreciate your thoughtfulness!