Broccoli & Backpacks

Broccoli & Backpacks

Posted on July 14, 2017

I distinctly remember the day I forgot my third-grade book project. My class was reading Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days! by Stephen Manes, and in the story, the main character had to wear a necklace made of broccoli. Our assignment was to do the same. I can still picture the bus rounding the corner and the sinking feeling I got as I saw my classmates – all wearing their vegetable necklaces – finding their seats. Throughout the bus ride, my anxiety grew. I felt embarrassed and unprepared.
I didn’t want to go to school.
With school starting in just a few short weeks, many students all around us are beginning to feel the same way. Unlike my own forgetfulness, however, they begin the year embarrassed and unprepared due to situations out of their control. Their families must make impossible choices like whether to purchase milk or markers, and they simply do not have the resources available to buy school supplies.

This might seem like a small inconvenience when compared to other challenges that families facing poverty experience. Our family is connected with three children who live on the near east side, and we have seen them struggle with food insecurity, eviction and transience, and violence in their neighborhood. In the midst of these overwhelming obstacles, what difference does a backpack make?

According to Gilberto Conchas, a Senior Program Officer from the Gates Foundation, “Education creates a multigenerational cycle of prosperity powerful enough to push aside cycles of poverty.” Of course, educational success involves many other factors, but we also shouldn’t discount the impact of a backpack. It can turn embarrassment into confidence, anxiety into excitement, shame into dignity.
A backpack can determine whether or not a child wants to go to school.
And in addition to the ways a backpack can influence students and their families, it also allows us the opportunity to join in God’s Kingdom mission, bringing small pieces of redemption to the broken places of isolation and injustice.
It’s certainly more than just a backpack.

How You Can Step In Now

The pre-packed backpacks are for sale during the month of July and can be purchased after each service or here on our website. They will be distributed to 1200 children at the Grace Care Center and Shepherd Community Center on the near east side of Indianapolis.

Click here to purchase a backpack or discover more ways to get involved in the lives of students.