Backpacks of Love
St. Columba’s is a sponsor organization in Backpacks of Love, a program which serves children and their families who are either homeless or in severe need – whose only meals are often the free or reduced cost breakfast and lunch they receive at school.
In Forsyth county alone, this equates to 8,100 students, a 52% increase in the number of children in the free/reduced cost school lunch program since 2008! Backpacks of Love addresses these food insecurity issues by supplying food for the child and their family to have over the weekend through a backpack the child takes home from school. Backpack ‘sponsors’ shop for the food from a prepared list. Sponsors pick up empty backpacks from church on Saturday night or Sunday morning and then drop off filled backpacks back at church within the following 10 days.
Each month we collect food for two community food banks, Emmaus House in Atlanta, and The Place in Forsyth. We are priviledged to be able to help these two agencies that serve those in need both locally and in the greater Atlanta areas.
Here is a brief story from Emmaus House and how we are needed to address the needs of the community:
At Emmaus House, food pantry groceries for needy individuals and families are distributed every Friday morning at the Lokey Center. Unfortunately, due to limited stock, families can only receive food once every 90 days. Last year, the food pantry assisted 495 families. One of these families is that of a mother in her late 30's, who came to the Lokey Center at Emmaus House after hearing about the food pantry. She and her three children had just moved to Peoplestown and literally had no food in their house. Fortunately, because of local donation to thier food pantry from groups and organizations like St. Columba's, Emmaus House was able to provide them with a week's worth of emergency groceries that included nonperishable items (soup, pasta, tuna, cereal, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables) for breakfast and other meals, meeting a critical need for a basic necessity. Emmaus House was also able to help with some of this families other basic necessities as well. Her oldest son, born with deformities on his left hand, had been through 12 surgeries and was scheduled for another surgery at a medical facility that was four hours away. The mother did not have any way to get him to the facility for the surgery and worried he would not be able to keep the scheduled appointment. The Emmaus House healthcare fund allows them to assist when situations like this arise, in this case the cost of gas required to get them to the medical facility and back home. The reality is that most times people seeking food from the Food Pantry have a variety of needs that Emmaus House is able to address on site and through the collaboration with other community agencies. So the food we provide to Emmaus House helps in more ways than just meals. It helps provide stability and contact with families in desperate need and reach out a hand in friendship and love as we fulfill our Lord's command to love one another as he loves us.
A crucial part of our mission at St. Columba’s is to make a difference in the lives of those in our community through word and deed. St. Columba’s as a result has formed its own Boys Scouts troop that makes its home at St. Columba’s. The troop #415 is open to not only church members but also to those in the community for which we serve. The troop meets every Monday at 7pm. For more information and status of our troop formation please contact the ministry coordinator.
The vision of NA is that very addict in the world has the chance to experience our message in his or her own language and culture and find the opportunity for a new way of life. St Columba's supports this group by hosting meetings. For more information about NA, see their website at www.NA.org
NA meets nightly at 7:00 PM in the cottages located next to the main sanctuary. It is the cottage on the back hand side farthest to the right.
Saint Columba's Outreach Committee coordinates outreach activities of other groups, as well as plans its own. The committee has gotten off to a good start, but needs to expand to facilitate the growth of our ministry within the parish and to the community around us. As Saint Columba's grows, we feel called to grow our involvement in the community, sharing the love of Christ with those around us.
We encourage you to:
- Support outreach endeavors of all kinds, with money, time, and prayers.
- Invite other people to join us at St Columba's, in worship and other activities.
- Recommend community programs that could benefit by St Columba's involvement - through volunteers, monetary support, or use of our facilities.
- Tell the committee when your organization is planning outreach events, so we can ensure full coverage, and prevent overlap with other efforts.
- Come to our meetings the second Monday of every other month at 7PM.
St Columba's outreach over the past year has included:
- Angel Tree at Christmas
- Gwinnett County Foster Children's Foundation Picnic
- Vacation Bible School
- Camp Mikell Support
- Emmaus House Programs
- Cub Scout Pack 815
- Red Cross Blood Drive
- Ten Thousand Villages sale
- Atlanta Area Food Bank
- Hunger Walk
- United Thank Offering
- Children in Haiti Sponsors
- Local Neighborhood Key Contact Program
- Episcopal Relief and Development
- Rainbow Village Mothers' Dinner & Christmas Event
We thank you for your support in all these efforts. St Columba’s is so blessed, and indeed hears Jesus’ call to “feed my sheep”.
Vestry Contact for Mission & Outreach - Kathleen Kraynick