Family Mission Project: Backpack Buddies
One of the most startling realizations I’ve had over the past few months is the statistic that in our little Alabaster, Alabama (suburb of Birmingham) there are 2,000 kids on free or reduced lunch. We have a fantastic group that has grown out of Westwood called Sowers of Seed, whose mission is to provide lunch for those kiddos during the summer and to share Bible-based teaching about nutrition. It was a real wake up call to me that there are hungry kids, not just in other places of the world, but right here in the shadow of our church.
So, I was already pretty fired up about figuring out how to partner with them this summer. Then one of my very good friends who teaches at a public school commented about these same kids coming into breakfast at the school on Monday morning absolutely starving. I felt pretty silly that it had occured to me that kids that might be undernourished during the summer would also be hungry over weekends. Either their parents can’t or don’t provide them enough food. Wow. Kids right here in our area.
My small group (by the way, you need one of those if you don’t have one) has been looking for some type of mission project that we can do that our kids can also do with us. We found out that several organizations in our area and across the country have been doing a project called “Backpack Buddies”. Counselors at the schools identify kids who might need food over the weekend and discreetly pack easy to prepare/serve food in their backpacks such as fruit cups, pudding, macaroni and cheese, etc…. Organizations provide this food.
So this is what we did:
– We selected a large neighborhood in our community. On Friday night we went door-to-door and left a grocery bag with a note attached explaining what we needed and what we were doing. This was easy for our kids to do. We explained ahead of time to the kids what we were doing and they got it! Even my three year old explained to someone what we were doing. “We are getting food for the hungry children.” 🙂 The note instructed people to put the requested food items in the bag and leave it on the porch on Sunday. We would return that afternoon and pick up the bags.
– After distributing the bags we hung out and talked and the kids played. Great community!
– All weekend my girls prayed (mostly unreminded) that people would remember the food and that it would be sunny.
– After church on Sunday we put our walking shoes on, jumped in trucks, and collected bags. The kids were so excited to run around and find bags, though many were too heavy for them to tote back to the truck. They loved it and we filled the bed of a truck with food!
– We came back to the church office where we had cleared out a children’s ministry closet. The kids helped sort the food and then they filled the closet.
– Our next step will be determining how many packs schools need each week. We will then distribute from what we have stored.
I felt this project was a God thing because:
– We are serving a real need of real kids in our community. Kids should not be hungry.
– We were able to get out into our community and outside of the walls of Westwood.
– Our families were able to do this together.
– It is something we can do again – there are lots of neighborhoods we can hit!