At the SBC of Virginia’s Homecoming each year, Disaster Relief trucks are loaded with backpacks for Appalachia, gathered by SBCV churches across the state. In 2016, we received 2,500! As the trucks roll off into the darkness, prayers are offered for those who will receive the gifts of love for Christmas.
Some backpacks travel almost 700 miles to the Impact Center in Hopkinsville, KY. Some then find their way into the hands of Karen Ritchie, a volunteer who aides in distributing the backpacks. In addition to helping at the center, Karen is also a Kentucky Disaster Relief volunteer. She loves distributing the gifts provided through the Backpacks for Appalachia mission project. Of the 50 backpacks the center received last year, Karen personally distributed 10 and was brought to tears as she reflected on the kindness shown and the appropriateness of the backpacks.
The Impact Center serves 20 or more families three days a week. Therefore, the staff members have firsthand knowledge of each family who visits the center, which is sponsored by a cooperative effort of local Southern Baptist churches.
Karen’s 10 backpacks went to three families. Moms and dads were encouraged to present the backpacks to their children as gifts from their parents and to add or remove items as needed. Most of the backpacks brim with school supplies, so parents often remove some of the school items to use later in the year. One family decided to save some to give at Easter.
One of the moms said she had as much if not more joy in giving the backpack as her ecstatic child had in receiving it! The child told his mom, “Wow, you must really like school with this school stuff!” The mother was then able to reinforce to her son the importance of a good education.
Karen has been encouraged by how willing the families are to complete and return the Mail Club cards. The Mail Club sends children Bible lessons in the mail.
Karen can’t wait until the backpacks arrive this year so that she can once again see the joy of parents being able to provide for their children. Thank you, SBCV churches, for your generosity!
At the crossroads of US Routes 41 and 68 in Kentucky, you will find the community of Hopkinsville—population 32,634— where the Impact Center is located. In 2006, 200 homes were damaged as an F3 tornado ripped through that community. The town suffered several infrastructure issues with damaged power lines, downed communication towers, and a ruptured gas line. In Hopkinsville, 16.8% of people are living below the poverty line. The community has shown signs of health and resilience, growing numerically and seeing unemployment drop from 13.3% in 2010 to its present low of 5.6%.
Subscribe to the Proclaimer for Free
Not yet receiving the Proclaimer? The print version of the magazine mails three times a year, and there is no cost to readers. Why not sign up now?