BY JEFF MEWHINNEY, OUTREACH & PARTNERS INTERN
You have no idea how important something can be to a child. How many times have we seen a kid cherishing something as mundane as a rock they like, or a doll that has seen better days? I was one of those kids not too long ago. Oddly enough, my focus was a backpack. Now, I got it in seventh grade, so it wasn’t a very visible attachment (my parents probably didn’t even notice), but I knew. Everywhere I went that backpack came with me. It traveled across the world with me, and it was in every class I took. That’s roughly 2,520 hours of middle school, 5,400 hours of high school; during which my bag held everything from pencils to homework to love notes. It came with me on Merge retreats that shaped who I am today. It went with me to countless friend’s houses, carrying games and snacks and Xboxes. My backpack and I have a story, and at Grace we get to be involved in the beginning of other backpacks’ stories, with hundreds of children.
Our Back to School Blast backpack drive has been going on for 16 years. I remember packing the bag with my mom when we got my supplies for first grade (I’m twenty-one now and I do most of my shopping now, I swear). Over all of these years we have been sending backpacks full of supplies to Shepherd Community Center downtown, and this year we are distributing some of them to families in Hamilton County through the Grace Care Center as well. I cannot emphasize enough how big of a deal these bags full of folders and pencils and paper are to these kids. We get to participate in their story! Instead of tones of sadness, insecurity and inferiority to their classmates; God has given us the opportunity to write in lines of dignity and equality. Our bags combat what the world tells so many children: “You aren’t good enough for that.” We get to say that they are.
We have a few different ways that we can help re-write those stories. Firstly, we have to pack all those backpacks and hand them out! Our congregation has already done an amazing job of filling those volunteer slots. So, the other thing we need you to do is buy the bags. They will be for sale online during the whole month of July, and kiosk sales will be the weekends of July 9 and July 16. Thank you in advance for your help with this years Back to School Blast!
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