Operation Backpack

Finding an opportunity for six people, ranging in age from 5 to 49, not 50, to serve together, in a “missions” sort of way is quite challenging. We could all be patio greeters, except that the two teenagers would probably spend more time asking “Are we done?” and “Can we go?” instead of actually shaking hands with the church attendees.

We could dive into the Santa Ana workday with energy and gumption, however, the little kids don’t realize that paint goes on fences, and not sidewalks, nor do they do well with the hammer unless they are killing ants.

Serving at the Food Pantry would be fun, but the minimum age requirement is sixteen. That instantly eliminates two-thirds of our family.

When I heard that our church was sponsoring Operation Backpack, and needed people of all ages to help process the backpacks that were filled with school supplies for children, my ears perked, and I signed our family up to help. This would be our first service opportunity together.

Five minutes before we were supposed to leave for the processing, my youngest decided to ride his bike around the front yard, and fell, scraping his elbow and hip. All the way to church, he moaned and cried about the pain, however, once he was put to work, gathering backpacks for people to process and going through backpacks to make sure that they have enough supplies, he said, “When I was doing the backpacks, I forgot that my scrapes hurt!” That is a true reflection of taking our eyes off of ourselves when we are serving God’s people.

On the way home, each of the kids told my husband and me how much they enjoyed what they were able to do at the church and kept telling us how much fun they had. At bedtime, my youngest who is 6 said, “I loved doing backpacks and helping the poor. Can we do it all the time?” This was another affirmation of the fact that our hearts are touched when we give of ourselves, in order to help others.

After letting the kids know that we as a family were going to help the next day doing some more backpacks, they got excited. We filled 25 more backpacks from our dining room table that night. The pizza was optional, but a great addition.

“We are only fully alive when we’re helping others. If you aren’t serving, you’re just existing, because life is meant for ministry. God wants you to learn to love and serve others unselfishly.”
~~Rick Warren