With her face aglow the little 5-year old girl insisted that the worker help her with her Christmas Backpack. Noticing that the backpack was almost as big as the little girl, the worker suggested that she carry the little girl’s Christmas Backpack to where her parents were seated. “No!” exclaimed the little girl, put it on my back.”
Jenny, a volunteer from Eastside Baptist Church, helped April put her arms through the straps on her backpack. As she turned to help another child, she heard a thump; turning back around she had to laugh. In her words, “There lay little April, on her back looking like a turtle with her arms and legs waving in the air.”
With a chuckle, Jenny helped April to her feet and supporting the backpack, assisted her over to where her parents waited.
Joey, trembling with excitement took his Christmas Backpack over to the spot on the gym wall that he had claimed as his space. Unzipping the Christmas Backpack, he started pulling out the contents, first a new set of Hot Wheel race cars and then a Ziploc bag filled with hygiene items. After placing each carefully on the floor, he reached into his backpack and pulled out an item that made him loudly shout with joy, jump to his feet and begin racing around the gym. Holding a package of new boy’s underwear over his head, he ran and shouted, “I’ve got new underwear! I’ve got new underwear!”
A Birthday Party for Jesus
Phyllis, the coordinator for the Birthday Party for Jesus, laughed as she told the story and then added, in a few seconds every child in the room was dancing and running around the gym shouting, “I’ve got new underwear.” She smiled and told me, something so many of us take for granted meant more to these children than all the Barbie dolls and Hot Wheel toys they received.
Each year we receive thank you notes from children who received the Christmas Backpacks. Some are cute, and some are simply a thank you with a drawing of something they received in their Christmas Backpack. Occasionally, they contain a picture of the child or a group of children holding their Christmas Backpacks. One memorable picture came from deep in the mountains of
Eastern Kentucky. It showed six middle school boys, on their knees with their Christmas Backpacks in front of them and each holding up a Bible they had received. The note read, “We want to thank you for the Bibles we received this year. We have been praying to God that He would send us a Bible we could read.” That year each boy had received a copy of the Bible in the God’s Word Translation, which is written on a fourth-grade reading level.
Thank You for the Food In My Christmas Backpack
Sometimes the notes bring me to tears. One young girl, outside of LaFollette, Tennessee wrote, “Thank you for the food in my Christmas Backpack. It is all I had to eat on Christmas Day.” The Christmas Backpack she received had been distributed by Indiana Avenue Baptist Church in LaFollette which had partnered with First Baptist Church, Social Circle, Georgia to provide the Christmas Backpacks. Little did a mother in Georgia know when she prepared that particular backpack, placed the food items in the bottom and prayed over it that a girl outside of LaFollette, Tennessee would find her Christmas dinner inside.
Another girl wrote from Blackey, Kentucky, “Thank you for all the food in my Christmas Backpack; it was all I had to eat during the Christmas break from school.”
Food is the number one item children thank us for in their notes. Sometimes the notes are humorous. A young boy from Letcher, Kentucky wrote, “Thank you for the canned hotdogs. They were good. Please send me some more.” He had received a can of Vienna sausages in his backpack.
Stories abound of what God is doing through the Christmas Backpacks. In 2017, as a result of Southern Baptists joining together, 74,276 children tangibly experienced the love of Christ and heard the Christmas story, many for the first time in their life. When the last of the Christmas Backpack had been distributed, the Birthday Parties for Jesus completed, and the children were home awaiting whatever was before them, 2,088 persons had prayed to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
Do you have a story to tell about the Christmas Backpacks? If so send your story using our contact form.
The stories are true. Names have been changed to protect the identify of the persons included in the story.