Last December, I stood in a classroom at Harrison Primary Center and passed out bags of food to their students. The classes were on a schedule, so at any time there were only about 25 kids in the room. They would walk in quietly, with curious eyes, and were given some simple instructions. They were allowed to pick out a hat, handmade by generous people and friends of Clay Church. This was exciting to them as they could choose from different colors and fabrics or yarns and figure out which one best suited their personality!
Most of the kids put them on right away and would have worn them all day if their teachers had let them! But one little girl just held hers. Held it behind her back. She was asked if she wanted to put her new hat on, like her classmates. But her response was something that wasn’t expected. She said, no, she didn’t want to wear the hat because she was saving it for her mom. There wasn’t time for a conversation about that comment, but I have found myself wondering if her mom needed to stay warm while walking to work, if it was going to be the only gift she could give her mom for Christmas, or if maybe she loved her mom so much she just wanted to give her something pretty. I’ll never know how or why she gave that hat to her mom, but some simple yarn knitted together was a lovely gift.
I also watched as boys and girls peeked into their food bags and grinned huge grins! We were told “THANK YOU!” by many (that’s in capital letters because they said it with excitement!) and received hugs from some! To be honest, their bag contained a box of macaroni & cheese, a can of tuna, a can of peas and some cookies. Some simple ingredients to make a simple meal. Not the most exciting meal, but when cooked would smell good and be warm in their tummies.
According to the Indiana Department of Education, 87.6% of Harrison Primary Center students received free lunches during their school day last year. When these kids are not in school, I have to wonder if they have anything to eat. I worry about their tummies grumbling; I can picture them looking into the refrigerator or cupboard and finding little.
It is a simple gift to offer one meal. But when large groups of people were fed miraculously in the Bible, there was always leftovers. In 2 Kings 4:42-44, Elisha asks for 100 men to be fed by 20 loaves of bread, which to the one holding the bread sounds ridiculous! But Elisha tells them that the Lord says, “They will eat and have some left over” which is exactly what happened. That story was not as familiar to me as the one about Jesus feeding the 5,000. That story, found in all four Gospels, tells that the huge crowd of people was fed with two fish and five loaves of bread. And there were 12 baskets of leftovers!
More could have been fed.
Well, I don’t know if you would consider this “leftovers,” but we feel that more can be fed this year. And when you know that there are so many hungry children in South Bend and God asks, “What do you have to offer?” We say, “Well, we packed about 700 dinners last year! How can we do more?”
Guess what. This year we are going to pack up 1,400 meals. Yes, that right, 1,400! Lincoln Primary Center is going to receive a meal for every student to take home over winter break, too! 84.8% at Lincoln Primary Center received free lunches every day last year. These same kids may be hungry during those two weeks away from school. And we want to help quiet their grumbling tummies, too.
During October, November and December, we will be collecting boxes of macaroni & cheese, cans of tuna, cans of peas. We’ll also take individual packages of cookies (like the ones we put in our kids’ lunches). The money that FaithWorks! kids share in the offering will be saved to purchase what remains needed to fill all of these bags. Talk to your family about miracles, read these stories in the Bible out loud together (you can look for another one of Jesus feeding 4,000…how much did they have left over?), encourage your kids to be creative in how they can help make this happen in our own community.
Those watching the multitudes of people being fed were “fed” too. I’m sure they had much to learn from those experiences and shared those stories often. How could you not?! I truly believe God wants to work in our community, but He doesn’t want to do it without us. Let’s help our children experience the work of God. Let’s do this.