Why We Give: Backpack Outreach
On the way home from school, Simon carries food in his backpack to nourish him and his family for the weekend. He wonders what it feels like to live in a home where he can take a bath, sleep in a bed, pour cereal and milk in a bowl and watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. Simon lives in a car.
Every Sunday after worship, members of St. John’s UMC in Baltimore pack cereal, peanut butter and jelly, a loaf of bread, non-perishable nutritious food and even toothbrushes and toothpaste for Simon and other children attending Margaret Brent school, a local elementary/ middle school. There are 25 homeless children attending the school and St John’s provides food for some of the 5- to 11-year-olds.
“How can you learn and grow when you are hungry?” asks the Rev. Kathleen Cheyney, pastor of St. John’s. “These kids are too poor to get food except breakfast and lunch at school and we supplement weekend food for them because some are living in cars and abandoned locations,” she said. Cheyney said that the church tries to provide nutritional as well as some “fun” food like candy for the kids. “After all they are kids,” she said. “They also have enough food during the holidays and three-day weekends.”
St John’s began the backpack ministry last fall when their peace and justice committee wanted to reach out to the young community. They even provided school supplies to the needy children to last the entire school year. Simon and other children are excited about receiving food and school supplies. “The kids love it,” said Cheyney.
Currently, St John’s can only afford to pack backpacks of food for Simon and four other children because it costs $20 per backpack. If you would like to help St John’s backpack ministry, you may send a financial donation to the church. Make checks payable to St. John’s UMC, 2640 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Please put “Backpack program” in the subject line.