Flint Baptist Church congregants had already participated in school supply drives for several years when Missions Director Jana Bishop came on board.
After discussing ministry opportunities with staff, Bishop decided to intentionally look for a specific school that needed help from its community members. They eventually settled on Griffin Elementary in Tyler, Texas, a Title 1 school severely underfunded and comprised of a large percentage of impoverished children.
The principal at Griffin told Bishop that hosting a backpack drive would help the kids living in extreme poverty feel more prepared for their new school year. “We need backpacks because they provide anonymity. They camouflage items that children need but may not want their friends to know,” he shared.
A child can draw attention and experience teasing if they need a special shampoo for lice or if they don’t have access to toiletry items that their families cannot always afford. If a child needs properly fitting clothes or shoes, they often don’t know that their teachers can help connect them to a community clothing resource.
So, after speaking with the principal and school nurses, Bishop gathered sensitive items to help satisfy a child’s practical needs and support their families. She soon ran into a problem—they didn’t have enough backpacks.
That’s when Bishop discovered Send Relief’s Backpack Day!
“This is such a resource! We don’t have to ask our members for backpacks anymore. They gave funding to all the items we needed. When we received Send Relief backpacks in 2021, we also provided the school with a washer and drier because of the money our congregants had saved by not having to buy bags,” Bishop said.
Many children came to school in dirty clothes because of severe poverty. Now, Griffin Elementary has a room where social workers help children wash their clothes and clean up before class so they can avoid bullying and wear fresh, clean outfits to class.
This August 7, Send Relief Backpack Day, Bishop and the congregants at Flint Baptist plan to participate again in the hopes of helping even more families at Griffin!
“Our congregation has bought into Backpack Day—so has our whole area! The resource Backpack Day provides to every church is a catalyst to show your congregants that one small resource can move people out of the pew and into the streets. It’s a simple physical item that they can take and use to tangibly meet the needs of those around them while showing God’s love,” Bishop shared.
“It’s easy to think that this item is insignificant, but it’s often costly for parents living in poverty. No gift is too small. We can all go down to Dollar General and get two or three things that a principal has mentioned to help students in need. Sometimes it’s a dollar stick of deodorant or a dollar shampoo bottle and a small note of encouragement. Keep it simple.”
If you would like to host a Backpack Day at your church or in your community, click here to learn more and sign up today!
Published July 20, 2022