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  • Kenneth Park

A Little Help

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

August 2016

Minimum wage. In some cases, even less. In those instances where it is not the minimum wage, it is not much MORE than that. Families struggling to make ends meet. To pay rent, the electric bill, car insurance, to buy phone cards so they can call home, clothes, food, medicine.

Then, each August, those families who have school-age children are faced with what everyone else is faced with: getting their kids ready to go back to school. New shoes, clothes, probably a new jacket or coat, and school supplies. Pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, folders, binders, backpacks, erasers, markers, glue sticks, composition notebooks, rulers, index cards, etc. The lists can be lengthy. The expense, if you have several children, can blow the budget for the month.

I don’t remember who it was that made a passing comment to us within the first year after we moved here, but they hinted at the need that was there. And while there are multiple organizations and drives and events that have the same focus (of collecting and distributing school supplies to families in need), the word doesn’t always get communicated throughout the Latino community.

When we first started collecting school supplies, we asked folks to collect a predetermined list in a new backpack and bring the backpack to us (or we went and picked them up). As we were receiving the donated backpacks that first summer, we wondered HOW we were going to find people to give them to. That happened to be the same week as the Richmond County Fair in Warsaw, and we happened to go with the kids that night. As we walked around, we started to run into folks with their children, and we realized that this was the perfect opportunity to give the backpacks out. I drove home, ran down to the basement, hauled out about 25 or 30 backpacks, and drove back to the fair (where it used to be held – next to the little league fields). We then started to go through the crowd, looking for Latino faces, and asking if they needed school supplies and a backpack. If they answered yes, I would escort them back to the car, and let them pick a backpack. Over the course of the fair days and through the week after, we gave out over 80 backpacks.

The generosity of the congregations who support us in this ministry has been consistently overwhelming. But the economic realities have hit generous congregations just like families everywhere. We distribute what we receive. This year looks like it will be a lean year, but we will still give what we receive.

After all, it is what we are called to do. To give a little help.

Kenny Park

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