Our second annual Project Backpack was a success! Before I recap our night I must give a HUGE shout out to my friend, Bev Stacey, for organizing this whole outreach. After just getting back from Africa and having so much on my plate, I can't tell you what a relief it is to have people like Bev step up and help like this. She deserves ALL the credit for this wonderful outreach. She made all the contacts with everyone and made sure each little one had someone who was donating a backpack to them. Thanks Bev!! (Bev and I pictured below)
You have been seeing all our blog posts about going to Africa and all the aid we try to bring internationally, but we also try to take care of our own. We all must not forget that just a few miles away from you, probably no matter what city you live in, there are children and mothers who don't have a place to call home. Many assume that because we live in America that we don't deal with some of the issues that people in other countries deal with. Well, that is not the case as you will see........HOMELESSNESS IS A PROBLEM NEAR AND FAR.
So we all showed up with backpacks in tow as you can see. I never know what kids will be there when I show up so I am always surprised and saddened to see some of the same faces at the homeless shelter year after year. This little one below, I immediately recognized from our 2007 Halloween outreach. I saw his mom and talked to her and she reminded me that he was Spiderman in 2007 at our outreach. They are back again.
You really see the effects of homelessness on the faces of the older children. They will not hardly look you in the eye. They deal with so much being a teenager and being homeless. They are aware of everything around them and know exactly the type of situation they are in. You will see joy on the faces of most of the smaller children but it is the teens that break my heart.
But you know what? Love breaks all barriers. It doesn't matter what someone might be going through, when you show God's love in a practical way by meeting a need, giving them something they never asked for, giving them a gift they would never expect or think they deserve, guess what comes next?
That is why we do what we do. You can't imagine what the smallest act of kindness can do for someone who is in need. These little ones have the love of God all over them. They are no different than my or your child, only they have nowhere to lay their head at night.
I'm so thankful to all the volunteers that showed up to help spread the love. Below you see two teenage boys. Look at how they are soaking up every word she says. You can REALLY make an impact just by showing up and showing that you care. They DO listen.
Do these look like the faces of the homeless? Sadly, they are.
It's always awesome to see the volunteers show up with their own children to help with this outreach. It is always important to show our own children the spirit of giving. It will put something in them that will last a lifetime.
My sis and Lucy Lane as well as her daughter, Helen, were huge helps as well. We try to keep it in the family :)
We were honored with a camera crew at this year's outreach.
Stacy Case with Fox News at 9 in Nashville brought along her whole family to take part in this outreach. They brought backpacks to give out and they also brought a camera crew :) You will see this little girl that they are filming in the NEWS STORY she aired at 9 o'clock last night. She went straight from the shelter to work and pulled off this story. Stacy has a huge heart and we are always thankful to have her jump on board with OH. Click on the NEWS STORY link to see her in action. Thanks Stacy!
I don't know the stories of all of these kiddos, but I do know that each one is just precious!
They LOVED their new backpacks!!
These girls came running up to me and gave me the biggest hugs. You want to know why? Because I have known them since 2006. They were a part of our very first outreach and you will see them throughout many pictures from our past events over the years. Every year I show up for all our different outreaches.......and every year they are there. I have literally watched these girls grow up in the shelter. Their mom gets help and will get out for a bit but then she always ends right back there. That is the story of SO many that reside at the shelter. It is not just one time, it is for some, life long, living in and out of shelters. It is a constant struggle that not even I know what the answer is. But I can tell you that I saw at least 7 children last night whom I have hosted at either out backpack project last year or one of our Halloween Projects.
We continue to show up, year after year, showing love, giving hope, letting them know that someone still cares. We have helped several moms back on their feet, and then there are some that we don't know where the answers lie...so we continue to show love.
Year after year, I watch the homeless numbers grow. Last year they had 21 kids....this year, 63!!! What is happening? I'm not sure. But the kids are always the ones caught in the middle. The moms are tired and drained and something like a backpack is just one more thing that they fail to provide for their child. Can you imagine the load off to know that their child can walk in school on the first day, proud, to have all the supplies just like every other child? It's a very small thing on our part but it is HUGE to them.
If you live in the Nashville area and would like to volunteer at the Nashville Rescue Mission's Family Life Center for homeless mothers and their children, please contact me at Kelly@ordinaryhero.org. Mary, the director, told me that they are in desperate need of volunteers to come into their day room and just basically play with the children, do crafts, read, help with homework, etc. She is VERY low on volunteers right now and it would be a huge blessing. Thanks so much!! Let's not forget about our homeless just miles down the road.