The Women’s Ministries Team in the Rutland Church in Kelowna, took this passage to heart and decided to do something that would reach out to a child in need, especially one who might be “orphaned” because of a parent’s drug addiction, or perhaps by abuse or neglect.
These children are in need – not because of anything that they have done, but because of the poor choices of their parents.
As a result, the BAGS OF LOVE program was launched in Kelowna.
This is a Seventh-day Adventist program based in the United States, with chapters all over America but only a few in Western Canada, including our recently-established local chapter in Kelowna.
BAGS OF LOVE reaches out to touch the lives of displaced children in our community who have been removed from their homes by social workers at the Ministry of Child and Family Development.
Their job is often emotional and heart-wrenching, but is made much easier when they can hand a BAG OF LOVE to a child who is traumatized and fearful! As you can imagine, these bags become a very important part of their lives!
The contents of each colorful, hand-sewn bag include a beautiful handmade quilt, several age and gender-appropriate toys, books and puzzles, personal care items (hairbrush, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.) and a large stuffed teddy bear at the very top of the bag. The child’s eyes light up when they realize the bag is especially for them to keep!
The handmade child-size quilts in each bag are lovingly made by a team of quilters in the Kelowna SDA Church as well as by a few individuals in the Rutland Church.
Stuffed toys are donated by several local stores. Church members have supplied other items and even some non-church members have heard of the program and are donating their time and talents to supplying us with knitted slippers and toques. Cash donations are always welcome for purchasing other necessary items.
The response from the social workers has been overwhelmingly positive.
They urge us to keep the program going! One social worker recently took three bags to one home and the children excitedly opened them up, spread their quilts on the floor and put the rest of the gifts on top and examined each item closely.
She said it felt like Christmas all over again!
Surprisingly, two of the younger children hugged the small bag of personal care items to their chest and seemed especially thrilled to have their very own toothbrush and hairbrush.
Still other social workers report that their child won’t let go of the large, cuddly teddy bear that finds its way into the top of each bag. Many more stories could be told about the joy that the BAGS OF LOVE bring to each child who receives one.
As a result of the successful BAGS OF LOVE program, another phase has been added which has appropriately been named BUNDLES OF LOVE.
This smaller version is especially designed to brighten the heart of an unwed mom or one in dire circumstances. Often these mothers are facing an uncertain future for their new child and to know that someone whom they have never met is concerned enough to give them such a thoughtful gift touches their heart.
The bags include a beautiful baby-sized quilt made by grade 3-7 students in the Sew4Service Club at Okanagan Adventist Academy, a receiving blanket, sleepers and onesies, diapers and wipes, washcloths, and an assortment of other baby items.
The maternity department in Kelowna General Hospital has enthusiastically embraced the BUNDLES OF LOVE layettes and we anticipate supplying them with enough “bundles” to provide for all moms of newborn babies who find themselves in a critical situation.
Those of us who are involved in the BAGS and BUNDLES OF LOVE programs have found inspiration in this statement found in the Ministry of Healing
“We are to look upon every duty, however humble, as sacred because it is a part of God’s service. Our daily prayer should be, ‘Lord, help me to do my best. Teach me how to do better work. Give me energy and cheerfulness. Help me to bring into my service the loving ministry of the Saviour.”’ (p.474).
What a joy it is to be the Hands and Feet of our Compassionate Father in Heaven!
By Donna Rose, Rutland Seventh-day Adventist Church Coordinator for the BAGS and BUNDLES OF LOVE programs
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