School supply backpack give away connects a church to its community

School supply backpack give away connects a church to its community

September 08, 2022

This summer, the Lake View United Methodist Church began a successful new ministry giving 83 school supply-filled backpacks to preschool through 6th-grade students in their community.
 
“Our church works with the food pantry that’s located here in town. We knew that the need for donations to the food pantry kept going up and up. And if the needs at the food pantry are up, the needs are also obviously up in other areas of people’s lives,” said Deanna Berry, member of Lake View UMC. 
 
Inflation has caused the average cost of school supplies to increase. According to the National Retail Federation, the average price for back-to-school supplies has increased 40.6% from 2021.
 
Lake View UMC also saw how successful the Storm Lake UMC backpack ministry was through a connection between their pastor at the time, Pastor Betty Kiboko, and her husband, Rev. Dr. Kiboko I. Kiboko, who is the pastor of Storm Lake UMC.
 
“My co-chair and I are retired teachers, so this holds a special place in our hearts. We know that if kids’ physical and emotional needs are not met, they have less chance of going to school and succeeding,” said Berry. They also used their connections with the school district to help design their program.
 
After meeting with the elementary school principal and explaining that their goal was to provide a backpack and fill it with the supplies the students needed for their classroom, they were on board.
 
They call this ministry “Raider Friends” to help distinguish the church program from the school program that sends backpacks of food for students over the weekend. The Lake View UMC Raider Friends backpacks focus on the East Sac school district students and those who go to their church.
 
“By the middle of May, we had our list of materials from the school district for each grade level. We also did some notices in the newspaper and set up an online site where families could register. They also could call the church to register,” said Berry.
 
The church and community unconditionally supported the ministry by donating high-quality and name-brand supplies that work well and last longer. A team of over 20 people helped gather and assemble the supplies. People even reached out to their employers for sponsorships and donations.
 
Lake View UMC will try to expand and include more grade levels for next year. If parents called in and registered their child and asked if an older child could get things, they supplied those, too. 
 
Berry said they had plenty of backpacks for the children to choose from, and you could see their eyes light up knowing they could pick which one they liked the best. They received lots of thank yous from the parents, and each child got a piece of candy from the pastor. 
 
“God has placed in our hearts a need for others, and what we want to do is see where God is leading us. Where we started was God put in our hearts this need for children, and who doesn’t have a special place in their heart for the needs of children,” said Berry.