Even though we had purchased and prepared supplies for 1,500 children, additional backpacks and materials were donated from an array of businesses, churches, and private individuals making it possible for us to continue handing out filled backpacks to an extra 141 children. In addition to the reported numbers, in the final minutes of the giveaway we handed out still more empty backpacks and miscellaneous materials so that no child was turned away empty-handed.
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child but I can attest to the fact that it also takes a village to host an enormous undertaking such as the giveaway, and I’m pleased to report that a village showed up in support of this vital annual Presbyterian outreach event! Polk County donated the space for us to hold the event at their human services building on Euclid; Officer Guhl and Sgt. McKinney of the DM Police Department and DM Public School Safety Officer Bjurstrom donated their time to hand out sticker badges and pencils; Salvation Army distributed more than 1,500 bottles of water to the hundreds of people standing in line for hours; Variety, the Children’s Charity donated $5,000 toward the more than $20,000 needed to purchase the supplies; IMPACT Community Action Agency and Iowa Homeless Youth Centers provided staff and youth to lend a hand; and the Presbytery of Des Moines’ Two Rivers Partnership set up the supplies on Tuesday night for the following night’s crew of volunteers to fill the backpacks. Presbytery staff Betty Dyer and Nancy Lister-Settle, along with still more Presbyterian and community volunteers worked at the event on Thursday for a week’s total of more than 150 good-hearted volunteers providing countless hours of labor. We are pleased that the Des Moines Register and television stations KCCI and WHO featured this year’s event. Thank you also to IMPACT and the Clive Library for donating hundreds of books and to IMPACT for the use of their truck to transport supplies; to Joyce Hoffman for lining up volunteers; to David Madsen for putting together promotional video clips; and to the CROSS assistant David Moore for his dedication and hard work. Special thanks to all who donated financially to help with the cost of the supplies so that homelessness prevention program funds would not need to be used for this cause. Thanks be to God for providing a village!