More Than a Backpack Adventist Community Service Center Makes Up 300 Packs

“The kids can’t wait to see what’s in the paper bag, and the parents are overwhelmed when they see the backpacks.” Volunteer Bonnie Blair describes the reactions she sees as she distributes 59 packs full of school supplies at the Adventist Community Service Center (ACSC) in Battle Ground, Wash., on a Tuesday in early August.

The ACSC had made up over 300 packs full of supplies this summer to share with the families of Clark County who come to the center each month for food and clothes. Most of these families aren’t expecting the bag of new school supplies that Blair and volunteer June Bartholomew give them. And they certainly don’t anticipate the new black backpacks either. “The moms, especially, get teary-eyed when they see the backpacks,” says Blair.

This year, the ACSC had special help in collecting the school supplies. Emily Donaldson, Meadow Glade Church Vacation Bible School director, wanted the children who attended to be directly involved in this program. So each child brought a nightly offering of 25 cents during the week. A total of $627 was collected, and the cash and 350 backpacks that Donaldson purchased were given to ACSC. And filling them, says Blair, “is the fun!”

Blair, who is retired and has been volunteering at ACSC for four years, says that she watches the sales starting in late September at places like Office Max and Fred Meyer. She cuts out coupons and hunts bargains at the Dollar Store. She and her husband Mel end up storing some of her purchases in her garage all year, waiting for school to start again.

ACSC distributes food and clothing two days a week and serves more than 160 families a month. The center receives much of its food supply from the Oregon Food Bank, the Clark County Food Bank and Northwest Harvest. The center also takes in used clothing and furniture.

With a policy of turning no one away, there is always a need for more donations, especially in the area of personal care items such as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and laundry soap. And ACSC is always looking for more caring volunteers like the Blairs, who think that every child should be able to take a brand-new backpack to school on the first day.

October 01, 2006 / Oregon Conference