Our community is second to none! When generosity, compassion and intentional hospitality exploded in this community, the lives of children were changed in a special way, and they felt the embrace of those who care!
On February 14, 2013, Valentine’s Day, the Seymour and Cicero United Methodist churches launched an exciting new ministry with the mission of bringing hope to children in our community. The “Our Kids Ministry” was created with the intention of partnering with the Seymour Community School District in an effort to meet the diverse needs of our students and bring hope to children right here in our own backyards.
The first mission of the Our Kids Ministry was to implement a weekend backpack program to help combat hunger among our school children. There are students in our community who experience food insecurity over the weekends, with little or no food until school breakfast on Monday morning. In the spring of 2014, over 140 students (4K-12th grade) took part in the “Blessings in a Backpack” program. Every Wednesday volunteers filled bags, which were handmade by wonderful women in our community, with protein bars, string cheese, fresh produce and other nutritious snacks. Every Friday, these bags were delivered to classrooms where participating students were able to pick them up and enjoy them over the weekend. On Tuesdays, students returned their empty bags to be refilled for the following weekend. Students were excited each week in anticipation of their bags. One young girl asked us who paid for all her snacks. When told that many, many people in this community donated food and money because they care about her, she replied, “Thank you all you people who care about me.” We heard from many grateful students, young and old, who experienced more than just the blessing of a full stomach.
Positive comments were also noted from staff and faculty at our schools. One teacher said she wanted to send all the important things home in the snack bag because that was sure to be looked at and returned each week. Another teacher noted that the attendance of one of her students improved. As volunteers, we were privileged to witness hope in the eyes of children who were reassured that so many care about them.
With unbounded generosity and a calling to be a part of something that would make a difference to the children we see in our neighborhoods, many community members, organizations and businesses gave generously. You put hope and a promise of a better tomorrow in the eyes of a child. Your commitment to the youth in this community is astounding! Words cannot express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for your donations, support, prayers, and time. When a need was mentioned, whether it was for supplies, monetary donations, or time, we were amazed and abundantly blessed with the immediate generosity from our community.
“Be the change you want to see.”