Backpacks: A Piece of Our Puzzle

Backpacks: A Piece of Our Puzzle

Posted on August 15, 2018

BY JEN NOELLE, GRACE ATTENDER

Ever since I was a little girl, my family has been involved in service. Intermixed in my memories of vacations and celebrations and lazy summer days are recollections of visiting an elderly couple in their home, collecting food for our local pantry, and going on mission trips. Serving wasn’t just something we talked about or learned about at church. It was part of our daily lives, a piece of my own puzzle that has shaped the person I am and the family I am now raising.
 
A few weeks ago, the 2nd– 8th grade students at Grace Fishers had the opportunity to serve when they packed 200 backpacks for the Back to School Blast. As they walked through the line, older paired with younger, they weren’t simply throwing supplies into a bag or executing a task that needed to be completed. They were becoming servants, tangibly working to show others the love of Christ. 
 

Then, each of them received a card with the name of a child who would be receiving one of the backpacks. The card provided a little information as well as a prayer request. It was amazing to see the students from Grace relate to the students from the near east side of Indianapolis. They learned that the children whose backpacks they had just assembled loved art, collected Pokemon cards, made slime and worried about the health of their grandparents. They saw the similarities instead of the differences.



Serving others, particularly those whose demographics don’t match your own, breaks down barriers. I’ve experienced this around a table at the Wheeler Center for Women and Children, in the parking lot of the Grace Care Center, and throughout a Safe Families placement. And I saw it while praying over backpacks at Grace Fishers.



The filled backpacks were distributed at Shepherd Community Center two weeks later, and as much as those backpacks are part of the puzzle to break the chains of poverty, they are also part of the students who assembled them. They represent pieces of service, acceptance and compassion, of tangibly showing the love of Jesus to another. And if those values are given the opportunity to grow and flourish, they will forever shape the bigger picture – both in the lives of these kids and in the Kingdom. 

Serve with Your Family

Our Back to School Blast event is over for this year, but there are other great ways to serve with your family throughout the year! Visit the Local Outreach and Care Center pages for more information. 

Care Center

Every Monday and Tuesday 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Grace Church – 146th Street


The Care Center has family-friendly opportunities on both Monday and Tuesday nights. Families might work together on projects such as sorting the Green Bag donations, sorting donations from local grocery stores, or preparing items to go into the choice food pantry.  The shift is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. each night.
Age Requirement: Age 9 and above

Circle City Relief

Every Sunday 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
IPS 60 Parking Lot, 3330 N. Pennsylvania St. Indianapolis


Join the team to distribute pizzas and supplies, pray, and build relationships with the people in the community. CCR provides food, resources and hope every week in the inner-city.
Age Requirement: All Ages Welcome

Hands of Hope – Bags of Hope

Arrange with a Hands of Hope Representative

Put together Bags for Hope containing specific toiletry items that will be paired with duffle bags for children when they first enter foster care. 23,000 children are currently in foster care in Indiana. When a child is removed from their home they are given trash bags for their personal items and have no toiletry items. Help change this for some kids. Your family will purchase the toiletry items and gallon-size Ziploc bags, then pack them together.

Wheeler Center for Women and Children  

Third Sunday of Every Month 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Wheeler Center for Women and Children, 3208 E. Michigan St. Indianapolis


Spend time with the women and children staying at Wheeler by serving snacks, working on crafts, playing games with kids and building relationships during our monthly recreation time. CWC provides shelter, food, clothing and life skills to homeless women and children in Indianapolis.
Age Requirement: All Ages Welcome 

Wheeler Men’s Mission – Serve Sunday Meal

Every Sunday 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Wheeler Men’s Shelter, 520 E. Market Street Indianapolis


Join us on Sunday afternoon to serve a dinner and build relationships with the men staying at Wheeler. Your family will help prepare plates of food, deliver trays and drinks, take tickets and interact with the men. Wheeler Men’s Mission provides shelter, food, and clothing to homeless men in Indianapolis.
Age Requirement: Age 8 and above 

Wheeler Men’s Shuttle to Grace

Second Saturday of Every Month 4:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Grace Church – 146th Street


Join us as we bring our friends from Wheeler once a month to attend the 4:30 p.m. service and share a meal at Grace. Your family can serve in several different roles. Your group can greet the men upon arrival, serve dinner and spend time talking during the meal. Behind the scenes, you can prepare and drop off a side dish or prepare care bags for the men. Help us make the men feel loved and welcomed at Grace!
Age Requirement: All Ages Welcome