contributed by Brenda Vick, Chair of Faith UMC Outreach Committee
During the past year, Faith United Methodist Church in Fort Smith began a new mission as a result of the Covid pandemic. Since we no longer felt comfortable due to the age of our volunteers working so closely together, to continue our feeding ministry, we developed an alternative focus which provides food for those area school children in need.
We are now partnering with the Community Services Clearinghouse in Fort Smith as they coordinate the backpack program in our area for children who need food outside of what they receive from their school. The purchased food from the Clearinghouse is delivered to the church and then members of Faith UMC pack the sacks for the backpacks. Members also deliver these backpack snacks to Morrison and Tilles Elementary Schools in the Fort Smith School district that feed 31 children each week.
During the holiday seasons, we also purchase, pack and deliver food boxes to Morrison Elementary School for families of the backpack students as well as their transitional families.
This past fall, to reach deeper into supporting the children receiving backpack snacks we decided to participate in the literacy portion of the Arkansas Conference Ingathering by coordinating a “Bucks for Books” fundraising drive. We chose to collect money instead of donating books so that books could be ordered by school counselors that would meet the students literacy and interest level. Our congregation donated $775 to “Bucks for Books” which was used to purchase 152 books for students’ home libraries at both elementary schools.
Pre-printed labels were placed in each book by church members that offered a place for the student to put their name to indicate it was a part of their own personal library and also indicated that the book was a gift from Faith United Methodist Church.
Faith United Methodist Church is in the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. The building is located at 2901 Massard Road in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The senior pastor of Faith UMC is Dr. Charles Armour. You can find out more about Faith UMC by visiting their Facebook page or website.
Thank you to Brenda Vick, Chair of Faith UMC Outreach Committee, for submitting this story.