Thousands of backpacks filled with classroom supplies have begun making their way into the hands of needy children in time for the start of school, courtesy of Mission Georgia, the wide-ranging outreach to the state’s most vulnerable residents.
Other backpacks filled with clothing and blankets are being given to women and children rescued from human trafficking. Yet others, filled with toys and other comfort items, are being put into the hands of foster kids or being handed out to children of international refugees who have arrived in the U.S. with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Backpacks have become important evangelistic tools in Georgia, delivered in person by Christian volunteers ready to share words of hope.
Sometimes the backpacks are filled with children’s books to help kids learn to read at grade level. That’s because studies have shown that children who fall behind their classmates in reading are more likely to drop out of school as they grow older, become dependent on government welfare programs, and to go to jail.
“We’re thankful that Mission Georgia can help churches connect with their communities and serve real needs,” said Lorna Bius, a mobilizer with the Geogia Baptist Mission Board’s Mission Georgia initiative.
In just the past week, Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Marietta filled 100 backpacks for distribution. One Church in South Fulton and The Favor Church in Decatur each filled 300 backpacks. Victory Baptist Church in Tifton, Agape Shoppe in Bainbridge, and Poplar Springs Baptist Church in Gainesville each filled 50 backpacks. And a regional backpack party in Columbus filled 1,500 backpacks for distribution.
Backpacks are great for the back-to-school season and for Christmas, but, Bius said, Mission Georgia is pressing to make filling and distributing backpacks a year-round initiative.
“When it comes to foster care or to help women who are expecting or human trafficking, backpacks are really needed year round,” she said.
“These backpacks can be a tangible way to express that someone cares, and that can be throughout the year,” Bius said. “Our goal is 10,000 backpacks this year, and I’d say we’ve already done close to 6,000. There’s a lot of excitement around backpacks.”