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When You Don’t Give All The Backpacks Away


Two weeks ago we put on our sixth annual Great Big Backpack Give at NWLife Church.

What a great day it was.

After the crazy torrential downpour we had experienced the evening before, I spent much of the night praying that the weather would change, and the grass would dry. We were not disappointed.

We had 1500 backpacks in 8 different colors, stuffed with school supplies, organized, and ready to hand out.

Volunteers began showing up before 9am to help in anyway needed, and it was around the same time that families from our community began showing up to ensure they received a number to get their bags.

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By 10am the bouncy houses were on, the carnival games were ready to be played, faces were being painted, and hot dogs were on the grill.

And at 11:00 on the dot, we started handing out backpacks.

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I typically spend much of the event walking from area to area, checking on the volunteers, making sure everyone has what they need, answering questions, and meeting new friends.

From start to finish, I absolutely love what we get to be a part of.

Our church campus is filled to the brim with people. We’re sitting together, eating together, laughing together, and watching our kids play together.

Kids are running around happy, filling their bags full of carnival prizes, eating popcorn, jumping on the bouncy houses and awaiting their turn to pick out their brand new backpack.

We begin shutting the event down around 1:00.

By this time the backpacks have typically all been given out, hot dogs have been eaten, carnival prizes are running scarce, and the face paint has nearly all been used.

But this year was a bit different – by the time it hit 1:00, we still had nearly 500 backpacks in our possession and crowds of people weren’t coming in to collect them

And I could feel the excitement for what we were doing that day, the anticipation of giving away all the bags, slipping.

I could feel the morale of our team going down.

And I never want that to happen.

I’ll be honest, there’s something quite exciting about giving away every last backpack. It’s almost thrilling to watch the huge supply of bags shrink down to zero.

Two years ago we gave out 1500 backpacks in just under 20 minutes. Yes it was fun, but that year we also had to tell numerous families that we didn’t have anything left to give them.

That part wasn’t so fun.

So as I sit here and reflect on this year’s Great Big Backpack Give, I can’t help but smile and feel extremely happy.

For six years we have provided backpacks to any and all kids in our own community that need them.

That’s over 7,000 bags and over 100,000 school supply items.

We have families come from a dozen different cities, and over 60 different schools are represented.

It would be impossible to count how many faces were painted, bags of popcorn were given out, and how many piles and piles of candy were won by kids playing carnival games.

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And at the end of the day we didn’t have to turn a single child away empty handed.

Our remaining stash of bags will by no means sit unused.

We’ve already adopted an apartment complex and will provide bags for each child who resides there.

As the school year begins next week, we will inevitably receive calls from nearby schools that have many students in need, and they know they can count on us for help.

So to each and every one of the 150+ volunteers who gave of your time to make the Backpack Give possible – Thank You!

What an amazingly successful day it was!

And not because we gave out every last backpack, but because of what we got to be a part of!

We are showing our city that we are here, and we are with them.

Grateful for that.

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