As the Director of Missions at PHUMC we heard about Pack-a-Sack through UMCM last fall and wanted to learn more. We met with Lewis Hill from UMCM to learn all about the program. The Pack-a-Sack program provides snacks on Friday afternoon for students who have been identified by the school staff as chronically hungry, or having a food insecurity. The goal is to provide them with nutritional snacks that they can eat over the weekend. We made the decision that we wanted to become involved with the program, and held a meeting for anyone in our congregation who wanted to participate in the program as either a volunteer, or a sponsor. As a result of our meeting, we made the commitment to take on this ministry and set a goal to start the ministry on February 1st, 2011 with an initial sponsorship of 10 students. Lewis matched our church up with Calvin Hunsinger School in Dunedin. Calvin Hunsinger is a Center school that serves students from Kindergarten through twelfth grade who have Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities (EBD). Eighty four percent of their students are considered “economically disadvantaged”.
We started the ministry on February 1st and the program “took off” in our church. We received sponsorship from individuals, small groups, and our Women’s Association. By the end of February we were feeding 18 students, and had received sponsorship commitments for 24 children. We knew that when these students get home from school they often will have to share the snacks with other siblings, so we set a new goal to provide sacks for siblings too. In mid-February we heard that the Alice Lockmiller Endowment Trust was accepting grant applications for the purpose of helping United Methodist churches and agencies to reach out into the community to meet the needs of children, youth, and their families in economic and/or social distress. We applied for a grant with the purpose to receive additional funds to expand our Pack-a-Sack Ministry. We were blessed to learn on April 15th that we had been awarded a grant for our ministry. I am pleased to tell you that after just 3 months our ministry is currently feeding 30 children, and have sponsorships funds in place to increase that number to 38 students. God is good.
We have been working through Kelly Sisco, a social worker at Calvin Hunsinger school. Kelly has an unbelievable heart for these children, and keeps us constantly updated when she receives the necessary completed paperwork from the families that will allow us to feed additional students. I wanted to share one of the many stories we receive from Kelly regarding these children. I immediately notified Kelly about the blessing of being awarded the grant because we had just about reached the maximum number of students that we had funding for. Kelly sent us back the following e-mail that I wanted to share.
Hello to Everyone at PHUMC and to Mr. Hill,
This is Kelly Sisco. I am the middle school social worker at Calvin Hunsinger School. I am the lucky person who gets to hand children their Pack A Sacks every Friday. I cannot adequately convey in words the feelings I have about your kindness and generosity toward the students at my school. I have never worked with families in such extreme poverty (and I have been a social worker for 20 years). I wish you could see how the children light up when they see me with the cart of sacks ready to be handed to them. They really appreciate them and look forward to receiving them.
Even though they have been told that they will get a sack every week, many students ask me throughout the week "Miss, do I get my sack this week?" Thanks to all of you, I can tell them yes every time! I could tell you so many stories about how much this program is impacting the students and families, but it would make for a very long email! I do want to tell you a little bit more, though. First, I had a student tell me just this past Thursday that he is happy to have his sack on the weekends because then he does not eat as much of what he mother prepares in order to save it for the rest of the family. He has so little at home but still does not want to take away from his family. I also had a student, whose family recently moved out of a homeless shelter, ask me if by him taking a sack each week, did someone else who needed it go without. I was able to reassure him that everyone who needs a sack gets one, which leads me to my final story...
This past Friday, the elementary social worker that I work with at school told me she wanted to meet next week to tell me about a few new students that just transferred to our school and need Pack A Sack. I told her I would have to check with PHUMC about whether we could take on any more students as we were reaching our capacity ; then, I check my email and see that God has performed another miracle! Again, words cannot express my gratitude, but THANK YOU ALL! It means so much!
I can’t thank the members of our congregation, and the Lockmiller Endowment Foundation enough for making Kelly’s miracle happen.
Director of Missions at
Palm Harbor UMC
United Methodist Cooperative Ministries seeks to make Christ's love visible and tangible through Service, Education and Advocacy.
We are a social outreach ministry of the Gulf Central District of The United Methodist Church. Incorporated in 1975 as a not-for-profit 501(C)3 faith-based corporation.
UMCM provides services to persons with special needs. Services change with the times and the need. They have ranged from an emergency food pantry, feeding the homeless, to several literacy-related programs, after school tutoring, Children of the World Preschool, computer learning labs, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Family Literacy programs.
UMCM carries out its programs throughout the Gulf Central District of the Florida Annual Conference including West Manatee, Pinellas, West Pasco, most of Hernando, and West Citrus Counties. The main administrative offices are located in Clearwater, Florida, with satellite locations in other areas. [Visit their website] for more information.
"Meet The Need" Ministry Connects People & Projects
Meet the Need is an innovative non-profit ministry that uses the power of the internet to connect people who have a need with those who want to provide for a need. Meet the Need members are churches who's congregations want to serve in the community, and ministries who actively post needs. (Although churches can post needs for families and individuals as well). The size of the church doesn't matter either; it is currently being used effectively by very large and very small churches alike. Member churches include First United Brandon, Limona Village Chapel UMC, and Van Dyke UMC. Some of the member ministries include Joining Hands, Metropolitan, and ECHO. Meet the Need has a strong Statement of Faith, and built-in protections for churches, volunteers, and recipients.
Meet The Need is designed for people who are ready to find more meaning and purpose in their lives by giving back. Every one of us has something to offer to those in need, whether it's something we own or something we can do. Giving money to a worthy cause is great, but Meet The Need is about personal contact, not writing a check. It's about carving out a little time to do simple acts of service for others. Even the smallest gestures can have a lasting impact on the recipient's life. As the Bible says, "Dear Children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions." (1 John 3:18) That's why Meet The Need exists...to let people know about countless opportunities to serve others through giving of time, energy and belongings.
Meet the Need is great for individual congregation members who want to serve, as well as Bible Study groups looking for a service project. And with the Holidays coming up, there will be an almost endless number of service opportunities. Meet the Need also has an Internal Volunteer module included that provides churches with an easy way to post needs for ushers, greeters, etc., and have members sign up to serve on line. No more emails or sign-up sheets; Meet the Need lets you manage your volunteers online.You may already be aware of Meet the Need, but if you would like more information, you can contact Doug Meyn at www.meettheneed.org, or 813-992-0330. He will be happy to discuss Meet the Need with you in greater detail, and how you can implement it quickly in your church.
Celebrate Jesus partners with churches to train and empower them to get out into their neighborhoods, building relationships with neighbors and businesses and discovering their needs. While working with the church for a full year preparing for their mission, we recruit volunteers from across the country to spend a week at a host church helping them to spread God’s love to their community through visitation and acts of kindness.
[Visit their website] for more information.
FUSE's mission is to educate and mobilize faith communities to act on the increasingly harmful effects of our country's dependence on fossil fuels.
FUSE works with all faiths to develop educational and action-oriented programming that addresses the social, political, economic and environmental issues that we are all connected to through the need to fuel our everyday lives. [Click for more. . .]