Backpacks bring hope to Haitian kids

By July 20, 2011

Haiti (MNN) — For kids in Haiti, a backpack is more just a fashion statement. A backpack means they can finally go to school. A backpack means they have a way to carry literally all their belongings. A backpack means they have hope.

Orphan Outreach is launching Mission Backpack to bring donated backpacks and the Gospel to the children in Haiti. Backpacks will also be distributed to local kids in Florida and in the Navajo Nation of Arizona. They are partnering with Moody Radio Florida, Moody Radio South Florida and WAY radio for this evangelistic outreach.

Amy Norton with Orphan Outreach says, "We have found, in all of our work internationally, that children have to have a backpack to go to school just like they do [in the U.S.]. And they need school supplies to be able to put in it. [In] so many countries, if they do not have a backpack, they can't go to school."

The children in Haiti are no exception. Mission Backpack is working with World Harvest Missions established in Haiti to distribute donated backpacks. Norton says, "[World Harvest Missions] was so grateful to have the backpacks this past year–after we did the drive in Florida–for the children."

In the wake of tragedy, hope is hard to come by, especially for the kids in Haiti. "Things are desperate there," Norton explains. "People thought that things were so bad after the [earthquake]. But it's gotten so much worse that so many children are suffering from sickness and illness and have no place to sleep, and no parents."

The hope of the Gospel can change lives. While providing backpacks to the needy kids in Haiti, Orphan Outreach is also opening doors for the message of Christ. Backpacks will be equipped with hygiene kits, a Bible, and a stuffed bear from Family Christian Stores.

The team distributing the backpacks, as well as the staff with World Harvest Missions, keeps the focus on Christ as they minister to kids in Haiti. "All of their ministry is done with an evangelical focus as well as humanitarian aid and assistance. So the Gospel message is definitely shared with each backpack that is delivered," says Norton.

There are collections going on both in Texas and Florida. Texas drive sites are already collecting between now and July 31; Florida sites will be collecting between July 25 and August 14. They have an overall goal to have 3,500 backpacks donated by the end of the drives.

You don't have to directly donate a backpack to a collection center in order to get involved. You can go online to the Orphan Outreach Web site and purchase a backpack to donate. The cost of providing one fully equipped backpack is $20.

All backpacks will be collected by the end of August and sent down by container with a team from Florida Baptist Children's Home. The kids in Haiti will get their donated backpacks and supplies by the start of school in the Fall.

Please pray for successful backpack drives for Orphan Outreach. Pray also for the kids in Haiti who will be hearing the Gospel message as they receive their supplies. Pray that God's love would change the hearts of these kids and draw many into His kingdom.

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