February is often revered as the month of love. Jesus poured out his love for us and in turn we show His love to the world through our words and actions. We thought this would be a great month to highlight our Backpacks of Love and their accompanying blankets. Our backpacks are a small token of love that we put together for children around Missouri who might be in a situation where they can’t access their belongings or need a few basic necessities.
It all starts with a backpack. Did you ever get to pick out your school bag at the beginning of the year? That feeling of excitement in getting to decide what color or design you would sport that year is the same excitement you can spark in a child by giving them a bag that can belong to just them. Once you have picked out the perfect backpack, you get to pick out the matching contents for inside. If you are planning to do a young boy’s backpack, you would get a children’s medium t-shirt, a small pair of socks, and 3 pair of small or medium underpants (ones with cartoon characters are always fun!). Then you can add a small stuffed animal/toy, like a dinosaur, a child sized toothbrush and flavored toothpaste, and finally a narrow tooth comb.
We know these items can add up quick, so it is never a problem to visit a good sale or clearance rack. We have even found backpacks at Wal-Mart for about $5 after all the hustle and bustle of back-to-school time. We do appreciate when the items are new and unused as it shows we care about the child’s comfort and dignity.
Once your backpack is stuffed, you can send it to a Sharefest event. After all the events, a group will come help us sort them by size and gender. At that time we will add the blanket of love. These are traditionally handmade blankets that are about 36x45 inches in size. It is always fun to find a blanket to match the theme or colors of the backpack!
After the backpacks are all sorted and counted, they get distributed to agencies such as the Columbia Foster and Adoption Program, Great Circle, God’s Helping Hands (STL), and various CASA programs across the state. The agency representatives who pick them up are always so grateful for the gifts and excited to share them with the children they serve. This reminds us how important it is to share God’s love with children in our communities.
Exploring the past and the present of Festival of Sharing.