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Chilton Baptist collecting Christmas Backpacks

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Thoughts are turning toward Christmas for Chilton Baptist Association member churches with the annual Christmas Backpacks for Children and Teens campaign.

Inspired by Operation Christmas Child that delivers gifts to children in poverty in numerous

countries, the Southern Baptist Convention wanted to start a way to give to children in poverty in the United States gifts at Christmas. SBC’s Women on Mission ministries coordinate the collection and promote the opportunity each year.

The project started around 2012.

Locally, Euleta Guy leads the effort.

“I have never been involved in any kind of program when I had as many people come up to tell me what a blessing they received from filling a backpack,” Guy said. “We are doing this to bless the kids, but we are ending up receiving a blessing also. When I buy the items, I get a picture of someone in my mind.”

Backpacks collected in Chilton County will go to children in the Mississippi River Valley region.

“Poverty is just bad there,” Guy said. “Most kids get their food from free lunch and free breakfast (at school).”

Guy said she has heard that as many as one in four children in the Mississippi River Valley region does not have adequate food.

Churches in other areas collect backpacks for the Appalachian region.

“Everything is new in a backpack,” Guy said. “… They distribute these from ages 2-17.”

Distribution events are held by churches or organizations in the area.

“They have a party or a meeting somewhere and they hand out the backpacks and they also present the gospel,” Guy said.

Each backpack also includes a copy of “The Christmas Story.”

When there are multiple children in one family in the age range, each child will receive a backpack.

“For some of them, this is the only Christmas that they will receive,” Guy said.

Because there are other organizations that focus on providing school supplies, the Christmas Backpacks campaign encourages including non-perishable food items, hygiene items, socks and toys in the backpacks.

“What I am told is the children appreciate the food that is in the backpack more than anything,” Guy said.

She encourages parents to think about what they would give to their child for Christmas when thinking about what to include.

Guy had originally heard about the opportunity through the Chilton Baptist Association but has also become involved through Thorsby Baptist Church.

One thing that appealed to her about the giving opportunity was not having to pay shipping.

Churches collecting backpacks bring them to the Chilton Baptist Association office. They are then taken to the state office in Prattville before being taken to the distribution site.

Teams make sure that each backpack is full of good items before being taken to Mississippi.

This year, Thorsby Baptist Church purchased backpacks for church members to fill and provided Bibles to be included.

“We gave out the backpacks to ladies that were interested,” Guy said. “We’ve had some teenagers say, ‘Hey, I’m up for the challenge.’”

Community members who do not attend a CBA member church are also welcome to participate.

For more information, visit the Chilton Baptist Women’s Ministry Facebook page or contact the Chilton Baptist Association at 205-755-3188.