Mission Update: Birthday Bags for Food Banks
When members of the 700 United Methodist congregations within the Texas Annual Conference learned that many impoverished families have nothing to give their children on their birthdays, they got to work stuffing hundreds of “birthday bags” to be distributed through several food banks across the conference. In fact, Cypress United Methodist Church – alone -- stuffed over 300 bags, collectively blessed them during their worship service on May 25th, and filled their church van with colorful birthday bags for delivery to the 2014 Annual Conference.
Collectively, the delegates from churches across the nine districts of the conference brought approximately 1500 bags. Shirley Broome, TAC administrative assistant and project coordinator for this outreach effort says, “Each colorful bag is unique, valued between $25-$50, and includes a cake mix and frosting, festive party supplies and age appropriate gifts for children from one to 12. It was wonderful to see the outpouring of generosity from all over the conference. Delegates were streaming in with armloads of brightly colored bags throughout registration. Our volunteers spent many hours boxing the bags for shipment to their destinations across the conference.”
“Since our United Methodist churches are focused on making an impact on the hunger challenges across our state,” shares Rev. Diane McGehee, Director of the Center for Missional Excellence for the Texas Conference, “we chose this mission project as a creative way to allow food banks to help their clients celebrate each child’s special day. We do not see this as a one-time project, so we’re encouraging our churches and communities to make this an ongoing priority.”
Boxes of birthday bags have now been sent to the Houston Food Bank via the Emergency Aid Partners Coalition housed in St. Paul’s UMC in Houston, some to the food bank in Tyler, and the remaining boxes went to Orange Christian Services, which provides food to the South East Texas Food Bank in Beaumont. Notes Director Judy Jensen, “Most people probably don’t realized how many children have not had a birthday cake during their entire childhood.” She adds, “About 2,600 families came to us for food, and often asked if we had a cake or toy or clothing for their child having a birthday, so we are more than excited to receive hundreds of birthday bags from the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church! We’ve never been able to supply that request before.”
“We hope our congregations have caught the vision of this ongoing need,” adds Shirley, “and that they will continue to assemble birthday bags for their local community food bank as a way to demonstrate God’s love in a very memorable way. Our gallery of pictures tells the story in living color!”