Despite a global pandemic, the Church came together to serve for Send Relief Backpack day 2021. With more than 23,000 volunteers, 120,000 struggling people in the United States were gifted with a backpacks full of necessary supplies, and $28,000 was raised to resource international churches to do the same in communities around the world.
Vice President of Send Relief, Josh Benton, shared, “We see backpacks as a ministry tool that can meet a variety of needs in vulnerable communities. From providing educational materials and hygiene items to food and supplies, churches across the nation who participated were able to meet pressing needs in their neighborhoods. A majority of the backpacks were used for back-to-school ministries for underprivileged children to make sure they had the supplies they needed to show up ready for their first day of school, while the remaining backpacks were put to good use at homeless shelters, foster care ministries and human trafficking safe homes.”
The children’s ministry team at First Baptist Strafford in Missouri hosted a back-to-school bash for more than 100 people with a bounce house, carnival games, face painting and free meals. Even with all the excitement of this block party, child after child shared that their favorite part of the evening was the backpack they received! Children’s Director Brittany Erisman commented, “The kids absolutely loved their new bags and school supplies! After handing out the backpacks, we were able to pray with each and every student before they started school on Monday. Most of the kids who attend our church on Wednesday night come from families who have great financial needs—they were so grateful, and some of the kids had their backpacks in a death grip they were so proud of them!”
The congregation at River’s Edge Fellowship in Kansas City almost didn’t have an event, it was over so quickly!
Although their backpack event was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., there was a line of cars down the block well before opening, so the volunteer team decided to open the doors five minutes early. By 10:01 a.m., they only had 15 of their original 100 backpacks left!
Just outside Denver, Colorado, The Local Church was able to pack nearly 250 backpacks to donate to a school in which 86% of the children are part of a free or reduced lunch program. The neighborhood surrounding this school is in one of the poorest areas of the city and has been undergoing a severe housing crisis over the past year.
A father and two sons at the school were able to hear the good news about free backpacks and supplies directly from lead pastor Justin McKay. McKay stated that the father looked at him, stunned, and shared, “Justin, it may not look like it, but I am on disability, so everything helps. Thank you!” He then turned to his sons, crying, and said, “This means we can now afford to buy you boys new clothes for school!”
Every child at this school from kindergarten through 5th grade went home with a full backpack that day.
We are so grateful to the nearly 2,500 churches who participated and shared the love of Christ with their neighbors in need!
Thank you for being faithful to serve the communities around you—we can’t wait to see what God does at our next backpack event!
Published November 4, 2021