Christmas in July

Backpack program serves local children

At 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 3, 2023, members of Saint Peter Lutheran Church concluded an event that was months in the planning. Back in February, as part of the annual Brunswick Family Assistance Christmas in July backpack program, the church committed to filling more than 50 backpacks for children in need.

The program promises qualifying children a backpack filled with school supplies specific for their grade and school, a new outfit, and a pair of shoes.  The hope is that the children will be excited and look forward to the start of a new school year knowing they have all the necessary school supplies as well as new clothing and shoes so they can begin the school year on a level playing field with their classmates.

Donations were solicited in the narthex between services from the end of June through July 23rd. There were also sign-up sheets in the narthex for shoppers and packers, and to sign up for a lunch afterward. Carol & Rob Schutt and Lynette Rickard each donated gift cards from Thrivent, which was a tremendous help toward purchasing school supplies.

Lynette Rickard and Diane Hennessey co-led the event this year. Lynette and Diane met several times, purchased the backpacks and school supplies, and stored most of the items in their homes until packing week.

There were 20 Saint Peter members who generously signed up to be clothing shoppers. For each backpack, the shoppers purchased a new shirt, pair of pants, shoes, socks, and underwear. The average purchase amount was between $80 to $100 per child, with the church paying towards those costs.

New this year! Pastor Wade worked with Southport Dental, who joyfully provided us with 52 dental kits which were also included in the filled backpacks.

Church President J. Taylor Ryan orchestrated a pizza buffet and LaCroix drinks for the more than 40 volunteers who gathered to pack the backpacks. Joy Miller signed up to head the Ice Cream Social afterward and provided an ice cream smorgasbord with lots of toppings for dessert. What a yummy treat! 

An extra big thank you goes out to Joy Miller and Susan Grady. They came the day before the event to set up and arrived two hours early on the 3rd to assist Lynette and Diane in organizing the school supplies to prepare for the packers.

Susan Collins initiated the proceedings with a beautiful prayer; blessing the packers, backpacks, and the children before packing began. All of the supplies were distributed quickly, according to plan – click here for photos from the event. 

Afterward, Pastor Jason prayed over the workers and the filled backpacks. Pastor Wade led us in a hymn sing-along while the pizza and ice cream buffets were set up, then said grace over the feast. 

The pizza and ice cream fellowship was a big hit. After enjoying each others’ company, everyone assisted in a quick clean up. Taylor even took the empty pizza boxes and empty LaCroix cans to be recycled.

In all, the event was a huge success and a wonderful time of fellowship. Our 52 backpacks were picked up by Brunswick Family Assistance at noon!

Look for an announcement next spring to join this wonderful effort.


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