Have you ever been a part of something historic and experienced that moment when you think, “Wow, I am so glad that I got to be a part of that!”? I am thinking of truly historic culture defining moments like, the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin wall, the first Free Willy movie, and now Summit’s 2017 Backpack Drive.
Most years we do a Backpack Drive with the intent that we could be a blessing to our community and meet some very practical needs for students who would otherwise be unable to afford what they need for school. This year was no different, but I have to admit the first couple collection weeks had me concerned that we would not meet our commitments. The concern wasn’t about failing, but about the implications of falling short. If we missed the mark, then there would be kids who miss out. The kids who would be impacted would be kids who are the most vulnerable and overlooked in our community, and the prospect of missing the chance to show them love saddened me.
We set the goal at 500 backpacks, not because that number represented the entirety of the need, but because it represented what we thought our church family could contribute to meeting the need with two of our partners. Orlando Children’s Church works with children living in impoverished neighborhoods throughout Central Florida and has been a recipient of backpacks from Summit for years. Africans United Council works with African refugees resettling in Central Florida. They are a newer partnership and have been instrumental in teaching us how the church can stand with these unseen and under-resourced members of our community.
So, a goal of 500 backpacks, a lot at stake for those who would be recipients, and going into the last day of collecting we are barely over halfway to our goal.
But, as you may have heard, that last day was awesome! Backpacks showed up one after another after another. The mountains of packs grew steadily by the minute. I was at Lake Mary that morning and saw the number of backpacks more than double in just a couple of hours. That evening, showing up at Herndon, I knew for sure that we had not only made the goal, but well exceeded it. It was the biggest pile of backpacks we have ever had!
When the dust settled, there were 725 backpacks (from all Summit campuses) filled with every supply the child who receives it will need to start their school year! All I could think was “I am so glad I get to be a part of this!”
Over this last weekend, I stopped by an event that Summit hosted for the refugee families that would be receiving the backpacks. I saw the bags lining the walls, I saw the kids, and I saw a ton of Summit volunteers (students and adults alike) who showed up to help make the party great. Again I thought “I am so glad I get to be a part of this.”
I love this church family and I am grateful that I get to serve alongside you as we continue to do our best to love our world the way Jesus does. Because of the extraordinary way you engaged in the Backpack Drive, we were not only able to abundantly fulfill our existing commitments, but we were able to respond to dozens of other opportunities to serve kids in our church and community. Every campus has relationships with schools, ministries, and nonprofits through which we are giving the overflow of backpacks in order to show love to children living in poverty in our city.
Thank you for being willing to be used by God, for braving the back-to-school mayhem at Walmart, and for showing love to others by how you serve.