What an adventure the backpack project was this year! For many years St Paul’s Methodist Church has sent a team every January to partner with us at the sports center and to help me pack up and hand out the backpacks. This year was the first year that a team did not come, mostly because of the change of ownership at the sports center. So the challenge for me was to figure out how to pack and deliver almost 700 backpacks and 80 preschool bags. The answer: family and friends!
After days of reviewing report cards and then finally placing the order, the backpacks and boxes of supplies were delivered on Friday, January 19th. The next day eight gals from our neighborhood came over and spent six hours helping me sort boxes and boxes of notebooks, unzip and count all of the backpacks and unpack the school supplies. By the afternoon we were finally ready to start packing some backpacks!
On Sunday Thomas’ family showed up. They were so efficient that I’m pretty sure we packed over 400 backpacks that afternoon and into the evening. They were having so much fun helping and were so quick that when dinner time came around I didn’t want them to leave. So Thomas and I ordered 12 boxes of pizza to feed everyone and they stayed til almost 10 o’clock that night. Everyone agreed that it should be a new family tradition. What fun!
On Monday one of my friends and her daughter came to help since our kids had a teacher work day off of school. So Samantha, Anthony and Nicole joined in to help pack. By the end of that day I knew I was in good shape. Throughout the rest of the week my kids offered to help when they got home from school or after dinner. And Friday we finished packing up the last bags and were ready for a weekend of handing them out.
On Saturday, January 27th, two gals from my Bible study and four local adults along with four teenagers from the neighborhood came to the sports center to help me haul all of the backpacks from my house to the Ranchon where we would hand out the backpacks to the kids. We set up various tables dividing them by grade level with the hope that handing out the backpacks would go quicker. I had printed out my lists of backpack recipients, and the various adults took charge at different tables. The line outside the sports center stretched down past the soccer field, but once we got started it moved rather quickly. By 10:30 there was no line, and we were just hanging out waiting for other kids to show up. It was definitely the fastest I’d ever handed out the backpacks.
All we had left were the two churches that we have sponsored with backpacks for a number of years. Word of Life let us borrow a van, and Thomas, the kids and I went to both churches that Sunday afternoon and delivered the backpacks. It went very smoothly. By the end of the weekend, though, I was exhausted.
Overall, the challenge of packing and delivering backpacks without the help of a team became a very memorable experience. I thoroughly enjoyed having so many different people offer to help – from the neighborhood, from Thomas’ family and from my Bible study. Most of all it was exciting to see how much these folks really enjoyed being able to help.
Thank you St. Paul’s and everyone else who has contributed to the scholarship fund. Without your gifts these backpacks would not be possible. Enjoy these pictures!