Pulaski Heights Christian Church 2013 Backpacks for Homeless Persons were distributed on December 29, 2013
This was our fifth year to fill and deliver backpacks to people in Little Rock who don't have the luxury of a permanent roof over their heads. We filled 36 backpacks this year, with help from members and even one of our artists who rents space from the church. In 2011 and 2012 we were blessed to be able to fill and distribute 100 backpacks each year. This year we had to cut back, but we insisted on doing what we could. (Last year's backpacks page.)
Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church serves their Community breakfast each Sunday morning, year-round. Each Sunday of the month has a standing crew that shows up every month to prepare and serve the meal to over 100 people on the first through fourth Sundays. It is our blessing to be the fifth Sunday crew, although we only serve four times a year, about once a quarter. This year our congregation decided to use that venue for distributing the 36 backpacks we had managed to fill. Because there was a huge discrepancy between the number of backpacks we had and the number of homeless persons at the breakfast, we used a drawing in order to select those who would get to choose a backpack. This is not ideal. We wished that we could have had a hundred packs again this year. We have heard from prior recipients that to receive one of the filled packs is a blessing, but we know that giving someone a backpack is not providing everything a person needs.
We fully understand that handing out a backpack at Christmas time will not permanently alter a person's life situation. We cannot fill a backpack and pretend away all the problems that the homeless individuals in Little Rock face. That is not our purpose. Our aim is to provide some faithful support for these persons, and ease their situation in an admittedly small way during the Christmas Season. But receiving a backpack such as this can help the person understand that there are those who think of them, and wish them well. By doing this we believe that we are loving our neighbors as the Lord commanded us to do. Furthermore, we are telling them that even though their life situation is not as comfortable as ours, God still loves them. And because of that love, we reach out to them.
We have used various plans for getting the backpacks filled over the years, but the most frequently used method has been to simply deliver an empty backpack to the volunteer, along with a list of recommended items, and ask that person to shop and fill it as a personal ministry. That's what we chose to do once again in 2013. People asked for between one and four backpacks to fill.
The items to fill a single backpack can add up to as much as $80.00, depending on the quality of items you select. When possible we try to include new items for everything on the list, because homeless persons rarely receive new things.
Once a year we fill as many backpacks as we can to distribute to people at Christmas time. Once a Quarter our small church provides the kitchen and serving crew at Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church to prepare and serve their weekly Community Breakfast. Our efforts are small, but we pray that God will magnify them.
We pray that we can once again fill and provide backpacks in 2014. And we pray that we might find some way to increase the number to 100 or more again, because the need is there.
Here is the list of Recommended items that we distributed with each backpack.
Recommended Items for the 2013 Backpacks for the Homeless
To take away empty and bring back filled
A. Sweat Shirt or Light Coat or Hoodie (L or XL)
B. Sweat Pants (L or XL)
C. Knit Cap
E. 2 prs. Socks (wool or cotton; NEW)
Please keep in mind that homeless men and women rarely get anything new. If it is within your budget, please get new items A-D. And always provide brand new socks.
You may add new boxers or briefs, long underwear, and so forth if you wish. Extra socks.
Whatever you believe would be useful if you were on the streets in the wintertime.
A. Toothpaste (travel size) and toothbrush (we have supplied the toothbrush)
B. Bar of Soap
C. Wash Cloth (NEW)
E. Small bottle of Hand Sanitizer
A. 2 500ml Bottles of Bottled Water
B. Mandarin Oranges with a pull-tab lid
C. 2 cans Beef Stew or any Canned Soup with a pull-tab lid
D. 2 cans Chef Boyardee entrees with pull tab lids
E. 2 cans Vienna Sausages with pull tab lids
F. 2 ea. Granola Bars, Cereal Bars, raisins, etc.
G. 1 plastic fork, knife and spoon set & paper napkin in ziplock 1 qt. bag
You may include more items in each category if you wish.
IV. Miscellaneous, optional
A. Blanket & or sleeping bag (if sleeping bag, please fasten to backpack with bungee. Also, please be sure the bag is rated for 0° F.)
B. Tarp, either 8x10 feet or 6x8 feet
C. LED Flashlight (prefer recharging pump or crank type, battery-powered is OK)
D. Matches o r Lighter
E. Small 1st Aid Kit
F. Inspirational booklet or small bible.
G. Any other items you want to add.
It’s good to enclose small loose items in Zip-Lock plastic bags.
It doesn’t hurt to include some empty zip lock bags or even grocery bags.
To save money you may omit the sweat-pants and sweatshirt, or buy used items for those two.
If possible, please always include the food and hygiene items.
Add as many optional and clothing items as you can afford.